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Taxi Hunter
|     review by Kozo    |     review by Magicvoice     |
Anthony Wong and Athena Chu
Year: 1993
Director: Herman Yau Lai-To
Producer: Stephen Shin Gei-Yin, Tony Leung Hung-Wah
Cast: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Yu Rong-Guang, Ng Man-Tat, Athena Chu Yun
The Skinny: Entertaining and interesting exploitation fodder based on an actual taxi strike on Hong Kong. Anthony Wong is great as the "taxi hunter."
by Kozo:
     Hong Kong exploitation at its best. Anthony Wong is in nice guy/creepy guy mode as a successful insurance agent who has a pregnant wife. However, he always seems to have run-ins with lousy taxi drivers - a bit of bad luck that goes nuclear when his wife and unborn child accidentally get offed by a particularly selfish driver. 
     After some necessary depression, Wong decides to take his aggressions out on all those bastard taxi drivers that overcharge, choose fares, and are generally disagreeable. Yu Rong-Guang plays Wong’s best friend, a cop who’s assigned to find the taxi serial killer. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that his quarry is also his best pal. Ng Man-Tat is Yu’s partner, and Athena Chu is the reporter daughter. 
     This is a well-acted movie that manages to inject some complexity into its exploitative subject. Wong is a deranged killer who actually remains a decent fellow in every other way. Herman Yau never takes the easy way out, and allows events to unfold in seemingly logical ways - until he refuses to show us a conclusive ending. Still, this is an interesting character-study/revenge flick. This film was inspired by an actual taxi strike in Hong Kong. 
(Kozo 1996)
Alternate Review
     Ah-Kin (Anthony Wong) has a nice life. He has a beautiful wife who is pregnant with their first child, a lovely apartment, and a job with prospects for promotion. Things are looking good until a Hong Kong cab driver destroys it all. When his wife goes into labor, Ah-Kin calls a cab only to have the driver take off for a better fare. Another driver stops but refuses to take them to the hospital because she is bleeding profusely. The cab driver takes off without noticing that the wife's nightgown is stuck in the cab door, and she's dragged down the street.
      Both she and the baby die soon after and Ah-Kin is left alone with with his policeman friend Chung (Yu Rong -Guang) to comfort him. Ah-kin takes to the bottle and is soon given a leave of absence from his job due to the decline in his performance. After getting drunk with Chung one night, Ah-Kin gets harassed by the cab driver driving him home and he snaps. The driver is left dead and Ah-Kin feels strangely liberated.
      From here, Taxi Hunter could have easily taken the one-dimensional Falling Down route, but instead manages to become a multi-layered revenge film with the viewer feeling nothing but sympathy for Ah-Kin. He's really a nice guy, though a little bit nerdy and definitely insane with grief over his loss. His actions are premeditated but his motives are pure. He only kills the "bad" taxi drivers, like the ones who cheat on fares, mistreat their clients, and attempt rape. On the other hand, Ah-Kin is kind to everyone who isn't an evil taxi driver. He even makes a special trip to the hospital to apologize to an injured cop, who was shot by Ah-Kin while working undercover as a taxi driver.
     Taxi Hunter is full of Herman Yau's humorous little touches. It's not nearly as nasty a film as one might expect, though the death of Ah Kin's wife is almost as gruesome as anything in The Untold Story or Ebola Syndrome (two other Yau/Wong collaborations). The social commentary on the pressures of city life and the corruption of HK taxi drivers is very interesting albeit one-sided. None of the "bad" taxi drivers are portrayed with any sympathy at all. The film is ultimately Ah-Kin's story and we're meant to feel for him. (Magicvoice 2002)
image courtesy of World Video
   Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen