|Index||4 reviews in total|
This movie is fantastic. The cast is great. Ti Lung proves once again that
he is a fantastic actor. Since the early days of the Shaw Brothers Studios
to the John Woo classic "A Better Tomorrow". Also, we have Simon Yam (most
recently seen in Lara Croft Tomb Raider II) and John Woo's classic "A Bullet
In The Head". And we have "bad guy"regular Waise Lee as "Faucet". If anyone
can pull of the bad guy role it is Waise Lee. He does such a great job at
these roles it makes you wonder if he is a nice guy off camera.
And how could I ever forget the beauty of Maggie Cheung. Any film with her in it is worth seeing just to be able to see hear beauty fill the screen.
There are quite a few comparisons with this film and Brian De'Palma's 1987 film "Untouchables". Similar? Yes. They are both great in their different ways. If you are looking for a place to start in the "heroic bloodshed" chapter of Hong Kong Cinema. Then I suggest you run to the nearest diversified video store and seek this gem out. Also, check out John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" and see just how cool Ti Lung is in these films.
Hong Kong director/producer David Lam Tak Luk's directorial efforts
films like POWERFUL FOUR (1992) and HONG KONG GIGOLO (1990). THE FIRST
(1993) was the first film I saw from him and at least now I can wait much
from his other films, too. THE FIRST SHOT is a no-nonsense depiction of
anti-corruption squad that was created inside the Hong Kong police to
the triad corruption and betrayal inside the force and in society in
general. The film is set in the 1970's and stars the great Shaw brothers
veteran actor Ti Lung as the "untouchable" cop who leads the new unit to
fight the powerful triad boss played by the calm and talented actor Waise
Lee who has also memorable roles in films like Johnnie To's and Andrew
THE BIG HEAT (1988) and John Woo's A BETTER TOMORROW (1987) and A BULLET
THE HEAD (1990). Other names in the impressive cast include Maggie Cheung,
Simon Yam, Andy Hui and Lau Sek Ming.
The film is a powerful depiction of corruption and criminal activity in the society and how many people are easy to corrupt with money and bribes. It is said at one point in the film that 95% of the Hong Kong citizens are involved with the dirty money and thus with the gangsters in some way and that is really an ugly and alarming number. The film is close to Brian De Palma's THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) in which Kevin Costner played the same part as Ti Lung does in THE FIRST SHOT.
THE FIRST SHOT is written by Chan Kiu Ying (Ronnie Yu's POSTMAN STRIKES BACK, 1982), So Man Sing (Jamie Luk's outrageous ROBOTRIX (1991) and Tsui Hark's impressive THE BLADE (1995) and Wong Ho Wa who also did the screenplay for Billy Tang's depressing RED TO KILL in 1994. So these three scriptwriters are pretty talented and together they've managed to create an interesting and noteworthy film once again.
There is little action and gun play but it is pretty restrained and never used as in the "heroic bloodshed" movies. It is all pretty realistic and used only when it was needed. The film is also pretty violent at times (and rated CAT III) and the hammering at the end is the kind of hyper violence that hurts the viewer almost as much as the character and thus the violence is never glamourized in the film. It is depicted in a very realistic way and so it has a much deeper meaning than just exploitation or "entertainment." Also Waise Lee's triad boss has a VERY dangerous and lethal weapon in his arm/hands and I definitely won't tell more about that surprise.
The only major negative point in the film is its attitude towards homosexuals. There's a jaw dropping scene at a gay bar where the dialogue is so priceless I wasn't sure did I even read right! I wonder what did the writers have against homo sexuals because their disgust towards them is so obvious and pretty tasteless in the film. And the gay they take to police station is totally unnecessary character and very annoying. This is a bad point in an otherwise great and serious film.
The music is by Lowell Lo who has composed also films like Clarence Fok's NAKED KILLER (1992), John Woo's THE KILLER (1989), Ringo Lam's PRISON ON FIRE (1987) and SCHOOL ON FIRE (1988) among many others, and his soundtrack in THE FIRST SHOT is again nice and atmospheric but not quite as masterful as in some of his other works, SCHOOL ON FIRE for instance. The cinematography is occasionally very wild and includes claustrophobic and restless angles especially in the violent and action scenes to add to the feel of terror and threat. The film is very professional and convincing in many levels and it would be even more noteworthy without those "gay commentary bits" in the screenplay.
THE FIRST SHOT is among the most interesting films of its genre and subject matter and I give it 8/10. Subsequent viewings will likely improve the film as usually with Hong Kong films.
Unfairly accused of being a shameless HK "The Untouchables" clone,
First Shot rises far above the almost comic book feel of its supposed
The story of the fight against widespread corruption in the Hong Kong police hierarchy in the 1970's, this film stars the estimable Ti Lung as "Tamerlane", an unflinchingly honest cop. Tamerlane is shot in the neck by one of his own men for his refusal to overlook the corruption of his colleagues.
After his release from the hospital, he is approached by Maggie Chung's Annie Ma who has been deputized to pursue and prosecute corrupt cops on the HK police force.
Assembling a group of fellow "uncorruptibles"--including, paradoxically the very officer that shot him (Simon Yam's Sam Mok)--repentant and reformed, Tamerlane and his secret squad go after "Faucet" (Waise Lee Chi Hung)--the triad boss who is the financial source of the widespread bribery, murder and mayhem.
The cast is universally excellent--Ti Lung is a strong, dignified--yet haunted Tamerlane. Maggie Chung is a strong female presence, the focal point who holds the group together when tragedy and treachery threaten its existence. Simon Yam has never been more appealing as the tormented but ultimately heroic Sam and Waise Lee Chi Hung plays the evil Faucet to chilling perfection.
For a compelling look into an anti-corruption squad with a story every bit as compelling as Ness's crew--forgo the big screen "Untouchables" and give "First Shot" a watch. You won't be disappointed.
Stepping back and looking at the incredible amount of talent in this
film, I can't help but be just a little bit disappointed, especially
after numerous glowing reviews for the films here and on other sites.
What drags the film down, in my opinion? Well, for starters, and the
most blatant, the entire gay vendetta this movie seemed to carry. I'm
not denouncing it, it was done in a humorous light for the most part
and it wasn't a huge detraction, but still... I think it bogged the
movie down, especially considering what prominent characters the
clichéd gay guys are here. Even more so looking at what a contrast it
is to the rest of this movie, which is very gritty and pretty serious.
Extended scenes in gay bars with jokes about aids in the middle of a
Cat III HK crime film? Not good, to say the least.
As mentioned in other reviews, this film rips off the Untouchables. Unmercifully. Constantly. It's not done in a bad way, so there's not much to complain about, but it's still there... Other original aspects of this film or no, there are still over a half dozen scenes directly pulled from the Untouchables.
The movie to boot just didn't seem to care much about being cohesive. Could of been a lot tighter. Though a good part of that might be to blame on the horrible, horrible subtitles. Very consistent misspelling of words, they ran off the screen basically making me miss good parts of entire sentences, and they were translated badly to begin with.
On the flip side, like I said earlier, this movie has talent up the friggin' wazoo and doesn't waste all of it. There's some solid fight scenes that are quite brutal... But on the whole I wasn't satisfied with them... I guess I felt there could of just been a little more, especially considering some of the martial arts talent involved.
And that's just about that. I enjoyed the movie, and I'm definitely not disappointed that I bought it, it's a solid entry into any fan of the genres collection... Just don't expect it to be a classic, I s'pose.
Oh, and one last quibble... The Bruce Lee fanatic. At one point, our crime fighting Bruce Lee lover even dresses up in the yellow Game of Death jumpsuit! His fight scenes (Hell, most of his scenes) have him making loud, high pitched Bruce Lee like sequels. Come on... Bruce Lee barely got away with that and the only reason he did it was because... Yup, you guessed it, he was Bruce Lee.
A 6.5 out of 10.
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