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High Risk (1995)

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-Jet Li
-Jackie Cheung
-Chigmy Yau


Jackie Cheung plays a man who has become a huge martial arts film star. While quite skillful in the past, since becoming big, he has become more of a drunken partying loser who doesn't quite have the skills anymore. But, he is still a big martial arts film star - only now, his bodyguard (played by Jet Li) does many of his stunts for him secretly - while he still claims he does his own stunts. Jet Li's character is a former cop who, after a bad decision in trying to disarm a bomb, caused the death of his wife and some school kids. When Cheung and Li go to a major event unveiling some precious jewels, in Die Hard style, a group of villains takes over the building to steal the jewels.


I can't say I went into this film with the highest of expectations. After the horrible City Hunter, I was prepared for the worst. I did, in fact, get a pretty bad film - but not quite as bad as I expected. In Wong Jing style, High Risk uses the same silly hijinks, over-acting, and blatant stupidity as a movie like City Hunter. But, this film does actually have a few action moves in it to redeem itself. Skipping the terrible hijinks and Wong Jing-ish style of the film, a few action pieces and a plot that doesn't totally suck might just redeem this film a little bit.

If the premise for most of this film's struggle sounds like Die Hard (trapped in a building with terrorists), that's because it is. The gag is that Cheung is a down and out actor who doesn't do his own stunts and Li is the bodyguard with a troubled past who covers for him. How will the two react in a dangerous situation like this? This is actually a decent premise and the plot itself isn't bad at all. In fact, the villain is quite cool too and the way he gets his men to do everything so he can stay secret for a while is great. Although, again, you may be reminded of Die Hard again at a certain point when the villain has to pretend like he is one of the hostages. Overall, though, there isn't much to complain about the plot. Its decently paced, has good characters, and, while nothing new, has the potential for entertainment. One thing, though, is that Wong Jing may have gone out of his way to take some jabs at Jackie Chan after the two had differences during the making of City Hunter. Another example of Wong Jing letting things that shouldn't affect his filmmaking.

So, while the plot doesn't suck - the presentation does. If you've seen City Hunter - you know much of over-the-top style to expect. No, there are no cartoon effects or oversized hammers. But, the style of the film is much the same. Again, characters put on way over-the-top performances with over-exaggerated reactions and facial expressions. Jet Li is the only person in the film who puts on a smooth, composed performance (and we expect no less from suck a great actor). The film also manages to make much of the action and violence really cheesy and goofy. While action can be funny, like many Jackie Chan films, and I don't feel that violence has to be portrayed really morbidly - Wong Jing manages to make pumping round after round into someone's back a goofy, stupid hijink. Let's put it plainly - I don't like Wong Jing's overly commercial and terribly over-the-top stupid style. It is exactly that style that ruins this film.

Action, while a mixed bad, manages to be the main redeeming point of the film. Some action is nothing special or straight up sucks, but there are quite a few moments where we get to see Jet Li pull of some smooth moves. As always, Li is in fine form and the action has some good choreography in everything from fights to shootouts. Unfortunately, some fights start out awesome only to degenerate into some silliness. But, we'll take what we can get, huh?

Not a surprise, but still a disappointment - High Risk isn't very good. The over-the-top stupidity and over-acting kills what was a reasonable plot and some decent action. If you, for some strange reason, actually like Wong Jing's style, you may enjoy this film - but otherwise be sure to know what you are getting before you watch it.


-Wong Jing


-English dubbed.
-Cut version from Columbia.