Hong Kong, 2010, colour, 1.85:1, 94 mins.
Director: Luo Shouyao 罗守耀 [Dennis Law].
Mainland martial artist Jiang Luxia shines in a low-budget action movie recalling old Hong Kong quickies.
Guangdong province, China, the present day. A mission by members of Hong Kong’s family-run Tong Lian Shun triad to steal some currency plates is foiled by the police and triad leader Luo Xiang’an (Zhang Zhaohui) is arrested and executed. Back in Hong Kong, Luo Xiang’an’s adopted brother Luo Xiangfù (Ren Dahua) is elected leader in his place but Luo Xiang’an’s will has to be wait to be read out until the youngest Luo brother, Luo Xiangfú (Li Nuoyi), returns from San Francisco, where he’s been living for a decade. When it is, the will states that half of Luo Xiang’an’s money goes to the young Luo Xiangfú and half to his sister Luo Liping (Liao Bi’er), which antagonises Luo Xiangfù & Co. as they are still owed money they paid for the lost printing plates. Luo Liping, who has been secretly training in martial arts, approaches her young half-brother Luo Xiaoniu (An Zhijie), the black sheep of the family and also a martial artist, to team up and eliminate the rest of the family. But when her ambition goets the better of her, she has to face the wrath of Luo Xiaoniu’s pupil Ya Mei (Jiang Luxia), a young mute whom Luo Xiaoniu took in when she was abandoned by her mother. He has since trained her to become a dedicated martial artist.
If little else, Bad Bloood 灭门 confirms that 24-year-old Mainland shaolin quan 少林拳 wushu champion Jiang Luxia 蒋璐霞, who made a knockout debut in the China-shot action movie Coweb 战无双 (2009), directed by Xiong Xinxin 熊欣欣, has the stuff to become East Asia’s new action queen – at least among hardcore genre fans – alongside Thailand’s Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda (Chocolate ช็อคโกแลต, 2008; Raging Phoenix จีจ้า ดื้อ สวย ดุ, 2009). Though her tomboy looks will never make her a major star, the petite Jiang, like Jeeja, has a dynamite physical presence on screen, recalling action-quickie queens of 1980s Hong Kong cinema like Oshima Yukari 大岛由加利, Yang Panpan 杨盼盼 [Sharon Yeung] and Li Saifeng 李赛凤 [Moon Lee] in energy – except that, like Jeeja, she’s the real thing.
Though she’s only fourth billed in Bad Blood, from her first appearance she takes over the movie, starting with three setpiece fights lasting nine minutes and a literally explosive finale. In the year since Coweb, Jiang’s acting skills have also marginally improved: conveniently cast as a mute (presumably because she can’t speak Cantonese), she shows a nice Jeeja-like line in tough-girl comedy and attitude. She and director Luo Shouyao 罗守耀 [Dennis Law] have since re-teamed in martial-arts horror comedy Vampire Warriors 僵尸新战士, an autumn 2010 release.
Writer-director-producer Luo, who seems bent on singlehandedly reviving every kind of 1980s Hong Kong genre quickie, is on better form here than in his subsequent Womb Ghosts 恶胎 (2010), with a strong action cast (Xiong, An Zhijie 安志杰 [Andy On]) and fight choreographer (Li Zhongzhi 李忠志 [Nicky Li] from the Jackie Chan Stunt Team 成家班), and the resourceful Qiu Litao 邱礼涛 [Herman Yau] as d.p.; but he still needs help on the writing side. The rest of the cast – Ren Dahua 任达华 [Simon Yam], Liao Bi’er 廖碧儿 [Bernice Liu], Lin Xue 林雪 [Lam Suet], decorative Zhang Wenci 张文慈 – and tight editing by Zhong Weizhao 钟炜钊 [Azrael Chung] just about pull the movie through the non-action scenes, with Canadian-born Liao way more convincing here as a ruthless super-fighter than in The King of Fighters 拳皇 (2010), despite sporting an identical hairstyle. As a nice bow from one quickie filmmaker to another, Luo includes a cameo by veteran director Wang Tianlin 王天林, father of Wang Jing 王晶 [Wong Jing], as a corpulent triad “uncle”.
[The Chinese title means “Family Extermination”.]
Presented by Point Of View Production (HK). Produced by Point of View Production (HK).
Script: Luo Shouyao [Dennis Law]. Photography: Qiu Litao [Herman Yau]. Editing: Zhong Weizhao [Azrael Chung]. Music: Wei Qiliang [Tommy Wai]. Art direction: Mo Shaozong [Alex Mok]. Costume design: Feng Junmeng. Sound: Liang Zonghou, Wang Qingsheng. Action: Li Zhongzhi [Nicky Li].
Cast: Ren Dahua [Simon Yam] (Luo Xiangfù/Funky), Liao Bi’er [Bernice Liu] (Luo Liping/Audrey), An Zhijie [Andy On] (Luo Xiaoniu/Calf), Jiang Luxia (Ya Mei/Dumby), Lu Huiguang [Ken Lo] (Luo Yongxiong), Chen Huimin (Chen Wanshan/Brother Zen), Xiong Xinxin (Luo Yonggang/Kong), Zhang Wenci (Qi Yitai/Lucy), Zhang Zhaohui [Eddie Cheung] (Luo Xiang’an/Andy), Lin Xue [Lam Suet] (Huang Huafeng/Peter), Wang Tianlin (Shu Fu/Uncle Fat Ball), Li Nuoyi (Luo Xiangfú/Jason), Tan Enmei (Mimi), Hou Huanling (San Yitai/Mama Ling), Huang Weiliang (Thai fighter), Huang Kaisen (Chinese fighter), Liu Jiandong (Japanese fighter), Cui Tongyao (female gangster), Zhao Xuanlong (Luo Liping’s bodyguard), Zhu Senlin (San’s bodyguard), Chen Yongyi (Mama Ling’s nurse), Lin Guoping (security guard), Li Siming (valet), Su Zhihui (uncle), Huang Yanqiang (police captain), Han Chun, Jiang Kecheng, Anthony Carpio, Wu Zhanhua, Yao Peishu, Chen Weile (policemen).
Release: Hong Kong, 21 Jan 2010.
(Review originaly published on Film Business Asia, 29 Oct 2010.)