HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
   
 
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
   
 
  Men from the Gutter Desperate Lowlifes
Year: 1983
Director: Nam Nai Choi
Stars: Jason Pai Pao, Wong Yung, Lo Meng, Michael Mui Kiu-Wai, Chan Pui-Sai, Parkman Wong, Lung Tin-Sang, Lee Hoi-Sang, Billy Lau, Sherman Wong, Yeung Chi-Hing, Wong Ching-Ho
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: While escaping a police raid desperate criminal Wang Guantai (Parkman Wong) kills a cop. He hides out with his buddies, Brainless (Billy Lau) and Ah Long (Lung Tin-Sang), luckless brothers up to their eyeballs in gambling debts thanks to their feckless mum. Desperate to leave Hong Kong and start afresh elsewhere the men, along with Wang's pregnant girlfriend Lily (Chan Pui-Sai), plan an armed robbery. The cops, led by bespectacled badass Qiu Zhengming (Michael Mui Kiu-Wai) and fiery Sgt. Zhao (Lo Meng, formerly one of the Five Deadly Venoms (1978)), are on their trail. However, the investigation gets derailed by another case when curly haired, chameleonic hit-man Zi Jian (Jason Pai Pao) bumps off a triad bigshot (Lee Hoi-Sang) at a squash court. The murder turns out to be part of Jian's elaborate revenge plan against Xu Wen (Wong Yung), a powerful triad boss who made a fortune after betraying him in a drug deal. Eventually all these characters and subplots collide in an explosive finale.

Popular myth would have it the Shaw Brothers, fine purveyors of period kung fu films, closed their studio because they could not cut it in the modern market. Men from the Gutter shows that simply is not true. It is an outstanding, gritty, hard-edged crime thriller that gives a neon-lit glimpse into Hong Kong's grimy underbelly of smoke-filled gambling joints and roach-infested tenements filled with grubby, desperate lowlifes. Producer-director Johnny Mak is often credited with kick-starting the HK crime thriller genre with his excellent Long Arm of the Law (1984) but Shaw Bros. clearly got there first. Slick photography, a cool cod-Tangerine Dream electronic score (most likely sourced elsewhere) and some of the most visceral, exciting action sequences in Eighties HK cinema round out a classy package.

Scripters Leung Hung-Wah, later a prolific horror auteur (among others he directed A Wicked Ghost (1999), the HK version of J-horror classic The Ring) and Keith Lee Pak-Ling, who went on to write fine heist drama People's Hero (1988) and direct gross-out fright flick Centipede Horror (1982) and the altogether classier Shaw Bros. swordplay fantasy The Supreme Swordsman (1983), cram a lot of plot into eighty-three minutes providing a lesson in punchy, concise storytelling. The sprawling story deals with multiple characters and plot threads in a manner comparable with the best of Michael Mann (Heat (1995) in particular). Nam Nai Choi draws out hidden depths from kung fu stars Lo Meng and Jason Pai Pao who give earthy, impassioned, menacing performances far more morally ambiguous than the stoic archetypes they usually played.

Lo Meng and Michael Mui Kiu-Wai make a compelling chalk and cheese detective duo whose methods clash as they piece together the criminal conspiracy. However the film divides screen time equally between cops and crooks and takes time to explain the motives driving even the most despicable character. Without endorsing criminality it empathizes with folk on society's lowest rung. Wang Guantai only wants to settle down with Lily, Brainless and Ah Long desire a debt-free life, Zi Jian wants to avenge an injustice. None of these men are ice-cool criminal masterminds, but rather sweaty, nervous, desperate losers whose ill-thought-out plans fall apart in the most emotionally-shattering manner possible. The film features plenty of action that choreographers Yuen Wah and Yuen Bun deliberately stage in a chaotic, messy, 'realistic' fashion far removed from the more balletic style of mayhem in typical Shaw fare. Among the many breathtaking stunts Zi Jian rappelling down a skyscraper while a triad tries to cut his rope and the amazing dockyard finale (where characters leap across shipping crates, surf on car hoods and ride a wrecking ball straight through an office block) rank especially high. Nam Nai Choi's staging and camerawork are fluid and dynamic throughout though he is just as deft with smaller character moments (e.g. when Qui intimidates a restaurant full of triad thugs or charms a secretary at Xu's plush office) and nastier details like when Xu slaps his girlfriend in a crowded fancy restaurant simply because he can.

A prolific cinematographer Nam had little interest in becoming a director until close friend, actor-producer-director Danny Lee talked him into co-directing his Shaw Brothers romantic drama One Way Only (1981). Thereafter Nam grew increasingly confident in showing off his dual gifts as D.P. and director with the earlier, equally gritty crime thriller Brothers from Walled City (1982). Upon hitting his stride with Men from the Gutter, Nam made the silly comedy Three Stooges Undercover (1984) then left Shaw Brothers. Whereupon his glorious output of horror and fantasy action films (The Ghost Snatchers (1986), The Seventh Curse (1987), Peacock King (1988), The Story of Ricky (1991), The Cat (1992)) grew increasingly fantastical and outrageous.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1075 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: