High Risk (HK 1995)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: Meltdown (U.S. Title)
Director: Wong Jing
Action Director: Corey Yuen Kwai
Cast: Jet Li, Jackie Cheung, Chingmy Yau, Valerie Chow, Charlie Young, Billy Chow, Wu Ma, tiny cameo by Yuen Tak

Another great looking, big budget atrocity from Wong Jing that rips off "Die Hard" (1988) and features a vicious and mean spirited lampooning of Jackie Chan. Frankie Lone (Jackie Cheung) is a big movie star who claims to do all of his own dangerous stunts. In reality he's a drunken womanizer, and uses former policeman Jet Li as a stunt double. Eventually, all of the players end up in a hotel that's being attacked by the same terrorist who had killed Jet Li's family several years earlier, and it's up to Li to save the day. Corey Yuen's action choreography is furious and exciting, but many of the martial arts sequences are just plain silly, or undercranked to the point of being silly. There were some shockingly messy squibs and some extremely violent and grisly moments, including an out of control helicopter crashing through a crowd of people, slicing and dicing all the way. Unfortunately, these intensely nasty moments are offset by that horrible brand of Wong Jing slapstick humor that's just painful to watch and humiliating to the actors. Jacky Cheung performs admirably, giving his best imitation of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee that he can, and Jet Li's intense stoicism is lightened considerably by the goofy tone of the film. Sexy and bitchy Chingmy Yau is on hand as a TV reporter with a mission to expose Frankie Lone as a fraud, but it's a throw away role for her. Tragically beautiful goddess Charlie Young is also available as eye candy, but she's completely wasted (but thankfully not degraded). The one who really comes out on top is Billy Chow, who gets a meatier bad guy role than usual, and he looks and fights like a son of a bitch. (nice work, Billy!) Not a complete waste of time, but it does get tiresome.