Never mind “honour amongst thieves”, there isn’t even honour amongst friends in Ringo Lam’s tale of double-crosses, triple-crosses and maybe even quadruple crosses if you can keep count that long, Full Contact. Chow Yun Fat stars here as night-club bouncer Jeffery, helping his buddy Sam (Anthony Wong) pay off his debt to the Triads by joining in on a heart-bursting, super-charged arms-heist. Sammy isn’t exactly grateful though – when the robbery is over, he shoots his best mate and then blows him up, fleeing with the other (completely loopy) robbers. Not content with that though, he moves in on Jeff’s missus using the tried-and-tested “shoulder to cry on” routine, unaware that Jeff isn’t dead at all, waiting to unleash his fury on his betrayers.
It doesn’t take much to make an action movie, even a good one, but it’s very rare that they come along as stylish as this. High octane gunfights, knife-fights and occasional fistfights amidst a barrage of bullets and flying debris are fantastically choreographed, chaos becoming a work of art, painted with literally gallons of blood and baptised in fire. Lam’s use of his surroundings is magnificent too, whether it be the “bullet-cam” sequences in Full Contact’s famous night-club scene, cars exploding like falling dominoes during a car-park shootout or huge blood-drenched blocks of ice being blasted into strawberry Slush Puppies when the guys battle it out in a warehouse refrigeration unit.
There are quite a few typically Asian characters on offer in Full Contact, although they perhaps sit more comfortably amongst their Japanese cousins. One example is a beautiful, clitorally driven schitzo-slut, named (wait for it!)Virgin (whoa! Now that’s what I call really biting satire!). Another is the boss homo-baddie Judge, who can conjure up guns and knives with the mere flourish of a handkerchief (presumably colour-coded, hanging from his back pocket) and usually has his arms around the boy who manicures his nails. He also wears a purple frilly shirt and snakeskin jacket, just one example of the numerous, disgraceful eighties fashion faux-pas that litter this 1992 film; others include Chow’s spirit-level-perfect flattop and cut-off leather jacket, and the hulking, retarded punk rocker Deano’s mohican pony-tail.
If a similarly-themed movie had been made in America, it’s video-release would find itself consigned to the ex-rentals super-save bin in the Co-op before being thrown in the skip out back six months later and finally sentenced to a humiliating late-night Channel Five showing. But Ringo Lam’s unique style and flair make it something special. True, it’s little more than gunfights, car-chases and explosions, but it’s gunfights, car-chases and explosions done right. Full Contact certainly doesn’t fire blanks.