Sunday, September 30, 2018

Golden Job

Caught this one early so that I could make it back to the Somerville, so I couldn't really get a feel for the crowd, but I'm kind of curious how this one is doing for Well Go. They didn't seem to advertise it as connected to Young and Dangerous the way they pointed out that City of Rock was from the maker of Pancake Man, and I wonder if that's a lesson learned: The Chinese-American/expatriate/fan audience is going to recognize the names and get excited, but some of us would just get frustrated by the fact that the referenced movies just aren't available legitimately or easily and pass it up.

Anyway, I was surprised how much I liked it - the trailer was kind of generic, with lots of guys who weren't big names to me being promoted like they were big deals, and this was already a busy weekend. But it's a fun, no-screwing-around action movie that taps into a lot of fun things but doesn't overdo them enough to be laughed at. I'd probably be trying to get my hands on the seven Y&D movies if I could after seeing this one; it's a shame that, even ordering from Hong Kong, only the third and the last before a 2013 remake are available right now.

Wong gam hing dai (Golden Job)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 29 September 2018 in AMC Boston Common #16 (first-run, DCP)

A chunk of Golden Job takes place in Budapest, because despite this movie's Hong Kong roots, that's where they make this sort of movie these days, with all of its car chases, explosions, and tortured brotherhood. It may not be a perfect example of that genre, in that it's a little too obvious about what it skimps on, but it's a satisfying one, especially for fans of the 1990s Hong Kong cinema it recalls. Happily, it doesn't lean so hard on nostalgia that those just looking for an hour and a half of action will feel shut out.

It tells the story of a crew of mercenaries who have been brothers since growing up together in an orphanage: Field leader Bill (Michael Tse Tin-wah), charming Lion (Ekin Cheng Yee-kin), tech guy Mouse (Jerry Lamb Hiu-fung), driver Calm (Chin Ka-lok), and all-around-badass Crater (Jordan Chan Siu-chun). Five years ago, a screwed-up job for shadowy operative Rick Rice (Sergej Onopko) got them cut loose, and since then, they've freelanced. Lion is ready to quit - he's met Zoe Chow, a nice doctor (Charmaine Sheh See-man) doing relief work in Africa - but Bill has a line on some stolen medicine, which should be an easy-enough job that they can bring their mentor, gangster Papa Cho (Eric Tsang Chi-wai) and even his daughter Lulu (Zhang Yamei) in on it. It does seem a bit more complicated than just a van full of meds, though, and when they get a look at the haul, it makes an even bigger mess.

Those coming to Golden Job with little else on their mind than watching some people, places, and things get knocked around will be plenty satisfied; the film divides into four parts set in different locations, each with a well-done action sequence at the center, and on top of that, director Chin Ka-lok knows the rhythms of these things better than most: He came up as a stunt performer and driver (it wouldn't be surprising if he took the part of Calm so that he had to shoot around doubles a bit less), and he knows how to tell a story with action: After the opening tease, he makes the Budapest heist light-hearted until it needs to twist, stages a fun, free-wheeling Japan-set segment where a great big goofy car chase is intercut with an old man played by Yasuaki Kurata having some pretty darn good martial-arts skills, playing it wonderfully straight but still having fun, and then gets grim and focused with the final assault in Montenegro. The staging of all these showcases is slick and exciting, but they build smartly, both within a scene and as the movie goes on, both in scale and complexity, with the emotional stakes clearly highest by the time the team is hunting one of their own.

Full review at EFC.

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