Friday, August 10, 2012

Fatal Contact - A Brutal Encounter...WITH MATH!!

Ok. We're not going to lie to you. When it came to this week's review, we spent months looking for this film, and then weeks in anticipation waiting to watch it and write our review. And, yes folks. It's true. We finally got around to watching "Fatal Contact", starring "Oh, that guy" (Jacky Wu) and "Ooooh, THAT guy!!!" (Xing Yu) in an underground fightclub punch fest for dollars... in multiples of $1,250.

So, get out your calculators and prepare to follow along as we provide this week's review.

"Fatal Contact" is a 2006 release written and directed by Dennis Law (Election, Vampire Warriors, etc). And, Kelly had to be up front here right in the beginning... the sweetness and moment of innocence in this film are such that she had to turn on Owl City just to write the blog nice enough in order to catch that spirit. (No joke Adam. Kelly needed that feel good stuff pumping through her headphones.)

OK... The whole film opens on a scene of a Chinese circus where we find the amazing Jackie Wu (Kong) performing various bits, and finishing with a simply amazing poi routine. His athleticism is in fact amazing, and if we see this type of performance in 30% of the rest of the film, we are in for a serious treat. He is approached by a very Sweaty man and his crew. These greaseballs have been in the audience the whole time, scheming as to how they will get Kong (Wu) to get involved in underground fighting. What dirtbags!

Kong, being a naturally shy and honorable young man turns them down, stating that it is an illegal practice that would get him kicked off the national Kung Fu team. And that folks WOULD be a crying shame. Of course, the men go away rather disgusted by this, as they naturally had a lot of money to make off of him. But alas, screw you greaseballs. Go home and leave our temple of art in peace... Not pieces.

Now, while all of this is happening there are two men hanging around outside waiting for their gangster bosses to come out. While neither of these men appear to be rocket scientists, one is obviously a half wit while the other a "strung out" mooch. This is Captain, and we soon learn that we need to keep a close eye on him.  Within seconds he performs a kung fu trick of pencil snapping coolness that defies logic, followed closely by a coin crushing technique... All for a few cigarettes. Cigarettes??? 

It is here that we learn that the gangsters were willing to pay out $2500 if Kong wins, and $1250 if he loses. Now, this offer would be really tempting as this is waaaaay more money that Kong has ever had. However, honor precedes glory. (swoon)

So, the circus folks all pack up and being to walk home from the theatre where they are performing. Now, it doesn't take long for us to realize that the super sweet, innocent, honor bound Kong has a crush on Tin, one of the costume girls from the circus. There is brief discussion about the circus moving on and Kong leaving it for more work, or having to face going back home to his village. 

Now, as they approach the apartment, Ada (girl #2) runs to  meet her super secret boyfriend who seems slightly greasy. But hey, this is Hong Kong and it gets hot there. Don't judge.

Kong proceeds to the rooftop where we witness an explosive display of Kung Fu finery. He absolutely destroys a punching bag and ends up having neighbors start throwing crap at him, complaining about how noisy he is... Blah blah blah. As he and Tin sit together and share an apple (OH FOR THE LOVE OF CUTENESS!!!), they have a discussion about his skills and complain about the people of Hong Kong thinking they are superior to everyone else.

"Why live in such a shitty place 
if you're so great!?!?"

(Yeah... We laughed out loud too!)

SO, the dinner date and Kong blushes. AND... have we mentioned how unbelievably sweet and cute and innocent Kong (Wu) is? Because he is in an entirely adorable way.

Now, Tin and Ada have a one on one conversation about the super secret boyfriend, future plans, hot pot, and how no one is waiting to sit around and take care of them. And, in all of this you get a sneaking suspicion that there is a multi-layered cake of mistrust,  manipulation, , and a series of bad decision making abilities. Note this and tuck it away for later.

Kong arrives for the dinner date, and he and Tin head off to share a two for one hot pot. And no. That's not a euphemism for something else. They talk about how if Kong fought for the gangsters, he'd make more in one night that he does in a month. This would allow him to stay in Hong Kong with her. And, despite her attempts to try and negotiate and convince him that he'd be entirely off the radar and no one would find out, thus jeopardizing his place on the national Kung Fu team... he sticks to his morals and says "no", because it is wrong and illegal.


So, Tin has a two for one coupon... which she forgets to read the fine print on and ends up making a HUGE scene in the restaurant. Being ENTIRELY embarrassed and adorably honorable, Kong pays the bill and drags the feisty Tin out of the restaurant. Once again, she asks Kong why he chose not to fight, despite the fact that it would solve his financial woes. Aaaaaand, it is here at 15:25 into the film that you start to get a feeling that Tin is somehow playing a hidden hand in this fighting/gambling circuit. Why? Because her verbal Kung Fu skills pack a whollop, aaaaaaand... KAPOW!!! Tin presents the a business card that she "just so happens" to have gotten from the gangsters, presenting it to Kong like this was part of some high stakes magic trick... or is it???

"Without money, you are nothing. It's true."

Which brings us to ask... do gangsters even carry business cards? And if so, what do they read? 1-800-Dial-a-Thug?
(scratches head)

The two head off to the warehouse to check out the dealio, perhaps throw down, and play the odds at winning cash and prizes in the amount of $1,250. Outside the not-so-secret warehouse site, they run into Cap't who is doing more tricks for smokes. Now, they don't hit it off too well as Cap't is a little bit of a loose cannon and "off" character who is constantly trying to leverage people for cash and smokes.


They meet with the main fight coordinator. He sets up the first fight between Kong and some clown in a yellow shirt. And really, I think that shirt is just a symbol as to who is going to absolutely die in this fight, just like in Star Trek. Why? Because in just two ass-kickery Kong destroys the opponents face, passes go, and collects $2,000. Wait, I thought it was supposed to be $1,250. (Pulls out calculator, cause this is some weird math.)

But, that is neither here nor there, so let's move on... and be sure to take out your calculator. Because things are about to get mathematically messy from here on out!

Arrangements are then made for him to come back and fight next week, to which he agrees and accepts living arrangements as generously provided by "The Gang". Our good old buddy Cap't is instructed to take Kong and Tin to the gangsters "place", which is actually a hollowed out warehouse space with correctional facility beds. Not very "POSH" for gangsters. (scratches head) Cap't has hoarded the money he was given to purchase provisions, a ridiculous verbal exchange takes place between Tin and Cap't regarding the cost of soup and dirty towels.

Now, we soon find ourselves back that the "OTHER" warehouse owned by the gang to witness a poorly attended and fairly sad looking fight. Enter Mr. Slick-In-A-Blue-Suit (aka Rock, or Fai depending on which translation you see) who arrives and starts making bets on the "Mainland Guy" (aka Kong). It's obvious that he's got some serious "clams" in his wallet as he starts by betting $10k ($1,250 x 8) on a win, and then he ups the ante by throwing in an additional $5k ($1,250 x 4) for a KO and $20k ($1,250 x 16) for  3 minute KO.

(Scratch the four, carry the one, 4 & 9 is 13...)

This is a pretty tough match. However, within 9 moves Kong re-arranges his face with his knee. Impressed by this display, "Fai" belittles and then manipulates the mob boss into using Kong to get into the "Big Time", earning triple what he earned on that night's gambling.

($90k x 3 = 270,000/$1,250 = 216 over initial pay to Kong)

Now, if you're thinking that perhaps these men should have consulted Kong as to whether or not he was going to agree to this, you're right. However, Kong has now placed both feet into the underground fight arena and, let's be honest, there is no going back for him. He's been owned by the gangsters and Tin. Their hooks are in him and there is just no way out.

But we digress once again! 

SO, Kong shows up at the "hideout"and offers to take Tin and Cap't out to dinner with his recent earnings, because he's good people like that. While there they notice that Ada, who is seated a few tables away, has been snookered into prostitution by her beloved mystery boyfriend.


Her boyfriend... err... I mean pimp publicly declares that she'll do anything for money, even the freaky stuff. Ada gets up, walks past Tin, and then exits. And, as MOST girls know, that's secret code for "follow me", because Tin quickly gets up and follows her out the back of the restaurant where they get into a pretty heavy discussion. It is here that Tin lays out her "12 point plan" for escaping her pimp and getting out of trouble.

 Of course, the pimp comes out and breaks things up and promptly hits on Tin. But, before any time passes, Tin flies out the door and roughs up the pimp and then Cap't comes out, creating a relatively humorous window of escape for them all. 

So there the three of them are, hungry, tired, and walking back home through a subway access point. Cap't starts suggesting super lame names for their justice/fighting triad, and they turn the corner to find...


The pimp and his brutes are waiting in the subway access hallway with bats and such. And, you would imagine that things MIGHT go badly. However, it quickly turns into a super-sized subway fight supreme. Turns out cap't is a kung fu genius... Though he denies it entirely.

So, do they ever get dinner? Did they go to bed hungry? Did the bad guys catch up with them??

That girl that blends into the chairs?
Yeah, she's carrying a load of guns.

We have no idea because at the start of the next scene it is STILL night, they are still in the same clothes and they are now arriving at  Mr. Slick-In-A-Blue-Suit's international house of haphazard chair placement. SERIOUSLY bad feng-shui there!

Now, much like the yellow shirt guy in the first fight, this disorganized chair theme is a solid indication that something super bad will happen... And yup, there it is. Poorly dressed Urban Hong Kong cowboy arrives, complete with quasi snake skin jacket, cowboy boots, and a terribly bent up cowboy hat. It's a visual atrocity that really speaks louder than words.

Anyway! He's pissed because Mr. Slick-Now-In-A-Red-Suit has diversified his personal gambling racket and cut the urban cowboy out of the equation. Naturally, this spells trouble.

MAN, with all this hype you'd think that this is going to be one serious beat down brawl. So, FIGHT ON!!!! And... Kong FTW in 3 minutes with the kicky legs of doom. His value? Side bet of $250k. But wait! That's not all. Realizing his skill, and entirely NOT keen on losing money, Senior Urban Cowboy and Mr. Slick-In-A-Red-Suit challenge each other via a HUGE bet that Kong can/can't defeat the best fighter in the room (Cue Conan the Barbarian). And, of course this turns into a financial pissing match that never factors Kong's feelings into the equation. But, then again there is not a numeric value that is a multiple of $1,250 that can be ascribed to his feelings...


So, Kong's "manager" saunters on over to where he is seated and tells him that he's got another fight. Not, "we'd like to you fight again" OR "You could earn a bit more with a second fight"...  Of course, Tin sees an opportunity here and agrees to let him fight for 10 times the initial offering. Angry over this, the manager walks back to Mr. Slick-In-A-Red-Suit to lay out the terms. To this, Mr. Slick-In-A-Red-Suit wanders back over to Kong and agrees to pay out $12,500... but ONLY if he wins.

Yeah, I'd make that face too if I were making $12,500!
OK. "Fighters, BEGIN!" says the announcer wearing the wireless headset... HEY WAIT!!! Where was he for the first fight? And WHY would they need an announcer and a PA for such a small, poorly room?

ANYWAY Conan rises to the challenge in all of his cheap, 13th century leather Viking finery, acting the part of "tough guy". And, now keep in mind, that though this guy IS bigger, and uglier, he has terrible maneuvering and skill. Kong rises out of his chair with a smile and as he enters the circle to start the fight, Mr. Viking Pleather-vest takes a cheap shot to his back.

Seriously, dude?
You ARE as stupid as your wardrobe!

Kong immediately jacks him in the face, which is
resplendent in ways that words cannot aptly describe,  and a two minute metal montage of fighting is on! The whole thing ends with a beautifully landed kick to the face and the destruction of a crappy table that really needed to be tossed out anyway. KONG FOR THE WIN!!!

Naturally, Urban Cowboy is pretty miffed about losing this fight as he totally thought Conan was a sure thing. And, of course Mr. Slick-In-A-Red-Suit can't resist generalized, taunting, jackassery... thus leading to a bigger, no-holds-barred fight to take place in one month. Three on three, with Kong leading the "red team". And, of  course, there hasn't been any discussion, agreement, or otherwise from Kong... as per usual. Only when they pay out his $12,500 do they inform him that he will now earn $20k (16 x $1,250) for each win, ZERO if he loses.

You're asking him to put his assets on the line for potentially nothing??? That's out right criminal! 

OH... wait. Yeah. These guys are criminals. We clarified that within the first 10 minutes of the film.

Now, we don't really know Kong's reaction in the immediate "now", as we are pushed out into the hallway where Mr. Slick-In-A-Red-Suit tells the bookie/manager that he needs to be reminded to insure Kong for this fight... which doesn't make a whole lot of sense as this is an illegal fight, right? (scratches head) But hey, whatever.

As per usual, Kong and Tin head out for a bite to eat after the match. And, just as things are getting adorable between Kong and Tin, Cap't shows up on the scene and weasels his way into a free meal. Aaaand, it is here that he critiques Kong's fighting style. To prove his point, a comedic lid borrowing scene takes place. Once acquired, Cap't has Kong make with the punches and kicks to the lids in the middle of the restaurant. And, it is here that Cap't proves that, though his technique is flawless, he lacks necessary "mean-ness".

Street fight comes, prostitute arrives, it becomes apparent that girl 1 is OBVIOUSLY a manipulator! Dramatic palette jumping entrance. FIGHT ON!!! Kong squad vs. the Wookie and his freaks. We've got bear hugs, and flying kicks, and dirty fighting with nails hidden in gloves, and... and... Well, the total  carnage is as follows:

 Five demolished palettes
Punches/kicks to the Nuts
A white track suit via Shiv/nail in shoe and glove
(Bad call on the track suit Kong)

Release the inner Bruce Lee


Kong FTW - $75,000

The fight ends, the cash is handed out, and then Cap't cracks out his handy travel acupuncture  kit to speed in Kong's healing. Then back at the "lair", Kong expresses his appreciation and interest in Girl 1 (Tin) and honestly, this is about the most adorable scene ever. And, if you didn't just absolutely LOVE Jackie Wu before, this scene will absolutely make you fall in love with him. Seriously. 

OK. So, Kong has been booked into a series of matches to the death via punching and kicking to the face repeatedly. With each booked match, the monetary multiples start flying. $65,000...

IF Kong wins he'll get $250,000 which is likely more than his sweet mainland self has ever seen. But if he loses, he'll still make $12,500 or so... which is STILL likely more than his sweet mainland self has ever seen. They assign a coach to him, but his technique is still static and formulaic. Not fluid and deadly. Well, according to Cap't anyway. So, Kong decided to start training with Cap't in exchange for a promise of $12,500 paid out. MORE than eager to oblige for money, this sets off a hilarious Three Stooges training montage not to be missed.

Aaaaahhh... good times.

Oooh, ok. SO. The big fight comes up. What are we at... $2,375,000? Ada meets up with Tin and wants to thank her for all of her help, support and advice. And, rather than smile, hug, give high fives, etc... Tin chooses to insult Ada, despite that fact that she did everything she was told to do.

I... Errrr... wha? WHO'S SIDE ARE YOU ON TIN!??!?
And this is where we really begin to feels as though Tin is a psychotic, self-serving jerk-face!

Now, rather than start a cat fight in the bathroom, she handles it with dignity and poise, and here we find out that Tin's father was a neglectful jackass that left her and her mother penniless. So, essentially Tin is "damaged goods", which just sort of paves the way for her and her lame behavior for the rest of he film. 

Alright, it's fight time. In the left corner we have Kong, and in the right corner we have... WHOA! THAT GUY!!! This is going to be totally... WTH!!! That only lasted 3 minutes and all we got was:

2 broken tables

That could have been way more brutal. But, we love these two guys... so we choose to forgive.

Now, NATURALLY pissed off over the loss, the aforementioned Urban Cowboy pays a little visit to THAT GUY who is presently bent, bloody, and broken from the sweet fists of Kong. And of course by "visits", we mean "kills". Dead. Kaput. FIN. Not cool Mr. Cowboy!

OK. SO, what is this all leading up to? The big mega fight. There's a lot of money on the line here. Mr. Cowboy and his "people" have brought in a street fighter to take down Kong. But, Kong's ready to throw down. He's ready to train hard and go for the gold. Rise as the underground street fighting champion of all time. ALL TIIIME!!!

But, his "handler" has a different idea in mind. He has decided to side with Mr. Cowboy and make a killing off of all the poor suckers betting on Kong. What does this mean? He has instructed Kong to throw the fight and lose. They'll all make a fortune.

NOW, just in case you have forgotten the beginning of the film at this point, Kong never wanted to get into the fighting scene. He felt it to be dishonest, lacking honor, and illegal. But now, he finds himself caught up in a sticky world of fighting, money, lies, and broken crunchy bone  bits. A far cry from where he started, and waaaaaay beyond his ability to just walk away.

The night of the fight comes. The action is fairly brutal. Kong takes one for the team, but doesn't mind as he is able to take his money, his honey (Tin), and leave the fighting circuit. However, Tin is EXTREMELY bothered by his sweet, loving, optimism.


BAAAH! I don't think I can tell you because then that would be an entire spoiler and pretty much ruin your chances of ever wanting to rent this movie!!! (sigh) Needless to say, the ending is in fact epic. And we mean jaw hitting the floor epic. Holy crap did that really just happen epic. No calculator could ever possibly make that make sense epic.

So the ending is interesting enough, and the film definitely has its humorous and impressive moments, but to be honest, it wasn't entirely what we expected it to be. We kept waiting... and expecting... and waiting... but most scenes just seemed to fall flat. Except for the ending, which increases the epic factor by about 80% for around 30 seconds. So we say rent it, but don't except a Jet Li masterpiece. And perhaps pull out your old TI-83 from College Algebra, because we assure you, the 'fun with factors' portions of the film will make the entire experience more enjoyable.

Join us again next week, when we find out what happens when foam pizza falls into the wrong hands.

~The Mavens

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