Burning Ambition (HK 1989)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/16/01
Director: Frankie Chan
Cast: Simon Yam, Frankie Chan, Eddy Ko, Yukari Oshima, Wei Ying Hung, Roy Chiao, Jeffrey Falcon, Robin Shou (?)

Another vanity project for kung fu veteran Frankie Chan, similar to his earlier "Outlaw Brothers" (1988). A bloody feud breaks out within a powerful triad family when the head of the family (Roy Chiao) decides to leave his business to his youngest son (Simon Yam) because his eldest son is a complete irresponsible idiot. One of the displeased parties kills Chiao and sets up the other family members, which leads to an escalating power struggle between Simon and his elder brother. Frankie Chan brings his gang from Holland into the fight and things really start to get interesting.

Like any good action film, the action sequences are far more important than the story that strings them together. The kung fu sequences are excellent - fast, graceful, and brutal. Kung fu divas Yukari Oshima and Wei Ying Hung get into a wonderfully nasty brawl in a parking garage early on in the film, which is arguably the highlight of the show. More delicious kung fu goodness goes down in an amusement park when Frankie Chan, Robin Shou (?), and Jeffrey Falcon go at it with a variety of classical Chinese weapons. (now why these are readily available at an amusement park is anyone's guess...) Jeffrey Falcon even pits his drunken boxing skills against Chan's vicious tiger claw in an oddly amusing showdown. The film is also interesting in the fact that there are no readily identifiable good guys. The film spends most of its time trying to sympathize with the obvious villain, but in the end, everyone's a bad guy. Everyone. Good frenetic fun from an age long past.