7.2/10
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8 user 9 critic

Long Arm of the Law (1984)

Sang gong kei bing (original title)
Thugs sneak into Hong Kong to rob a jewellery store, killing a cop during their getaway. They plan another heist while hiding from the police hunting them down to avenge their slain comrade.

Director:

Johnny Mak

Writer:

Philip Chan
Reviews
4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jing Chen ... Rooster
Ling Chow Ling Chow
Jian Huang Jian Huang ... Chubby
Lung Jiang Lung Jiang ... Chung
Ben Lam ... Cop
Wai Lam ... Tung (as Wei Lin)
James Mou James Mou ... Cameo
Wai Shum ... Tai
Kwong Leung Wong ... Cop
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Storyline

Thugs sneak into Hong Kong to rob a jewellery store, killing a cop during their getaway. They plan another heist while hiding from the police hunting them down to avenge their slain comrade.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | See All (1) »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

No. 6 in the Hong Kong Film Awards' List of The Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures See more »

Connections

Followed by Long Arm of the Law: Part 2 (1987) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Rather Mediocre Effort Despite A Terrific End Shoot Out
9 October 2006 | by SchwenkstarSee all my reviews

When I came across this film on IMDb I found the comments here to be very positive, portraying the film as one of the milestones of Hong Kong action cinema. With these glowing reviews I decided to make a "blind buy" purchase and order it on DVD through an online retailer. It was only $8.00 and I figure it was worth the gamble, especially since I had such admiring reviews to back me up. This aura of positive reviews, however, made me ask the question, "If this film is so essential to Hong Kong cinema, why hasn't anyone seen it? Or better yet, why is it completely unknown?" After I received my DVD and watched it, I found out.

The film is rather dull in all accounts. The film tries to build back story for the characters in the beginning of the film, but it only spends approximately ten minutes here before thrusting the characters into a clichéd action story. Ten minutes isn't enough time to build characters, especially when there is about six characters to develop.

And the film doesn't spend time on their relationships or internal psyches throughout the rest of the film. Instead, it concentrates on a fumbled heist, a few murders, torture, and whorehouses, totally devoid of any human emotion.

And the acting doesn't doesn't help in any way either. Most of the characters seem to be assigned one emotion and each must play that emotion to the fullest. As a result we witness over-the-top and occasionally irritating performances (some of the characters seems to be be on the verge of tears every time they are in a mess, causing the audience to groan at their complaining and constant whining).

As for that narrative portion of the film, it is greatly unfocused. The film is more of a culmination of scenes rather than a solid plot thread and the audience becomes confused trying to figure out how these scenes are related.

Also, the film places focus on irrelevant and unimportant scenes that do not further the story nor the development of the characters, such as the time spent on scenes at the whorehouse. These scenes seem pointless since they merely show the sexual intercourse between the men and prostitutes and do not add any commentary on anything.

However, the film does contain one noteworthy merit and that is the final shoot out that takes place in the back alleys of Hong Kong.

The sequence lasts about ten minutes and is indeed well executed. Here, the fugitives are running away from what appears to be an unending force of police officers through a labyrinth of hallways. The narrow passages and maze-like structure reflects the claustrophobic nature the characters are feeling and as more and more officers propagate within this tight locations, the fugitives are squeezed into a smaller and smaller area until they must make a final stand.

However, this scene is only well made on a technical level. Since the characters and story are so underdeveloped, we don't really care what the results of the shootout will be. Instead, the viewer will take joy in the sequence on a purely visual level, making the scene an experience but not a satisfying dénouement.

I don't see how this could possibly be a cornerstone of Hong Kong cinema when it has been so sloppily made. Most likely the film has simply received a small cult following thanks in part to the well executed final sequence, and thus have been over-praised in some areas.

The film isn't a totally lost, but it really isn't worth seeing. I would recommend this to only those who are Hong Kong Action (Heroic Bloodshed, Gun-fu, Bullet Ballet) completests, and even then it would only be to see that final scene.


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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Language:

Cantonese

Release Date:

11 July 1984 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Long Arm of the Law See more »

Filming Locations:

Hong Kong, China

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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