Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Final Option/Fei hu xiong xin (Hong Kong, 1994)

An example of just how bad a Hong Kong film can be, Gordon Chan's The Final Option, or Fei hu xiong xin, as it is titled in its native language, is an unbelievably boring, uninteresting and uninvolving film that plays like a third-rate colony version of SWAT—the old American television show of the 1970's, not the pyrotechnic remake of a few years ago.
The movie is supposedly about what is actually Hong Kong's own version of a police department's special unit, the SDU, or Special Duty Unit (known as the Flying Tiger Team locally). As might be expected due to the film's roots in "reality",
The Final Option never even reaches the level of the worst hormonally driven low-budget, straight-to-video trash and, worse, completely lacks any mildly exciting action, blood, story or naked flesh. (Actually, that The Final Option is lacking naked T&A is to be expected, seeing whence the film comes, but that the other three aspects are lacking as well is surprising.) To put it simply, the film sucks.
The plot basically concerns some guy that decides to join the SDU, and the rest of the film narrates his and his co-workers training, private lives, feelings, how they interact with each other and the effect their career choice has on their personal lives. A few action scenes are thrown in, but this is done so seldom and so far apart—not to mention so dully—that the scenes do little to relieve the boredom. On top of that, the team doesn't actually come across as being all that effective in the first place—but seeing that this film is supposedly a reflection of the reality of SDU activities, this lack of effectiveness is probably an attempt to add realism to the film, making the characters less cinematic superheroes than representatives of authenticity. (And, as we all know, in reality the police are rather ineffective and prone to fucking up—well, at least in the countries I have lived in.)

The most familiar face amongst the numerous characters in The Final Option is that of the SDU trainer and team commander Stone Wong, played by Michael Wong, a New-York-born Hong Kong regular that enjoyed great popularity in the Hong Kong films of the decade, despite a reputed low grasp of the actual language. He is also to be found in 1997's far more entertaining and weird cult classic Mad Stylist/Zhi ji sha ren fan and the dissatisfying but watchable (in parts) killer-babe film Her Name Is Cat/Paau mui (1998/trailer), among other Hong Kong films of varying quality. Any and all of his films are probably miles better than this piece of shit which, despite its hit status in Hong Kong at the time of its release, is less a Final Option than Not An Option At All. This celluloid tranquillizer was followed by a sequel in 1996 titled Fei hu, also starring Michael Wong. This is a bit odd, considering that he is dead and buried by at the end of The Final Option.

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