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Full Throttle
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Gigi Leung and Andy Lau - with no bikes in sight

Chinese: 烈火戰車
Year: 1995
Director: Derek Yee Tung-Sing
Writer: Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Law Chi-Leung
Action: Bruce Law Lai-Yin

Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Gigi Leung Wing-Kei, David Wu (Ng Dai-Wai), Chin Kar-Lok, Paul Chun Pui, Tsui Kam-Kong, Ha Ping, Lau Ying-Hung, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Bruce Law Lai-Yin, Candy Hau Woon-Ling

The Skinny: Entertaining action drama from Andy Lau and Derek Yee that's well-produced and involving, with great visuals and superior atmosphere. Despite being predictable, the film proves to be an affecting experience.
by Kozo:

Andy Lau stars as Joe, a motorcycle street racer who takes part in illegal racing all over Hong Kong. One night he meets younger racer (David Wu of MTV Asia) and the two become friends. But, Wu is a professional racer being sponsored by Lauís estranged dad Paul Chun. Joe wants to prove heís the best, so he and Wu go at it until something absolutely awful happens, causing Joe to re-evaluate his life. New star Gigi Leung is the girlfriend who tells Andy not to race again.

Yes, this film looks and sounds mighty predictable, which it unfortunately is. Think Tom Cruise's Days of Thunder, sub Andy Lau for Cruise, motorcycles for stock cars, and the streets of Hong Kong for Daytona and you pretty much have it. With that in mind, many of the film's great dramatic moments can be seen a mile away. The film does provide a better outcome than the usual Hollywood ending, but the steps it takes to get there could have been produced by Paramount Pictures.

Thankfully, the film concentrates on some Hong Kong-specific characters that Derek Yee seems to have made his specialty. Like C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri, the characters in this film are generally of the lower classes, and their daily lives and personal struggles are of primary concern of the storyline. In that, Full Throttle is a rousing success, as Yee creates likable, human characters that you grow to care about.

It helps that the actors do a fine job, particularly Chin Kar-Lok as Joe's racing buddy and Tsui Kam-Kong as an ex-racer. Andy Lau does a fine job which is a definite step up for him, but he still doesn't have the dramatic weight of a Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. If there's a weak link among any of the actors, it's newcomer Gigi Leung, who's remarkably wooden. Most of the time it seems as if she's just reading lines instead of actually acting.

Ultimately, winning the race is the least important thing in Joe's life, which should tell you a lot about the film's aspirations. The big action payoff is not what Derek Yee cares about, and his characters follow suit. Joes choices don't necessarily reflect the genre's usual path, but the outcome isn't any less satisfying. Derek Yee's solid work is technically superior and artistically ambitious, and for that it should be lauded. (Kozo 1995/1997)

Awards: 15th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Editing (Kwong Chi-Leung)
Nomination - Best Picture
Nomination - Best Director (Derek Yee Tung-Sing)
Nomination - Best Actor (Andy Lau Tak-Wah)
Nomination - Best Supporting Actor (Chin Kar-Lok)
Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Ha Ping)
Nomination - Best Screenplay (Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Law Chi-Leung)
Nomination - Best New Artist (Gigi Leung Wing-Kei)
Nomination - Best Action Design (Bruce Law Lai-Yin)
Nomination - Best Original Song ("Ching Sam Dik Yat Gui", performed by Andy Lau Tak-Wah)
2nd Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards

• Best Director (Derek Yee Tung-Sing)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
International Language Version
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd.

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