Full Contact is a hard-core heroic bloodshed film. For those not in the know, heroic bloodshed is a sub-genre of Chinese action films. They usually feature the themes of honor, friendship, and lots of stylized action. Full Contact definitely has all of those. What separates Full Contact from other heroic bloodshed films though is how exciting its visuals, soundtrack, and villain are.
The film stars Chow Yun Fat as Jeff, a motor cycle riding club bouncer. In order to help out his best friend, Sam (Anthony Wong), he must take part in a heist set up by Sam’s cousin. Sam’s cousin, Judge, is portrayed by Simon Yam in one of his most vile and flamboyant roles to date. Judge is a gay criminal who has the ability to whip a gun or knife out of his sleeve at any time. Yam’s villain is definitely one of the most unique characters in all of Chinese action films.
During the heist, Judge forces Sam to betray Jeff. Jeff survives, but loses several of his fingers, his best friend, and his wife. This is all set up for the rest of the film’s plot in which Jeff must enact his vengeance on Judge.
Chow Yun Fat plays Jeff with his regular code of honor that is attached to all of his action roles. He is quiet yet filled with rage. This is one of my favorite of Chow’s roles because his character is put through a lot. Seeing a man go from the top of his game to losing everything always makes for an enjoyable revenge actioner.
The film sports some very stylistic action scenes too. During one of the film’s shootouts, the camera follows a bullet as it leaves a gun and tracks it as it flies by the actors. In another shootout, Chow Yun Fat and Simon Yam fire at one another. This results in their bullets colliding and exploding. I’m pretty certain these shots had to have a direct influence on the various gun fights in 2008’s Wanted, in which many bullets collide with one another, literally. The film surprisingly does not have a ridiculous amount of action as most Chinese action films do. Instead, all of the action takes a back seat to the drama that all of the characters go through. The film has a very simple plot that really pulls you in.
This is also one of the more violent and sexual HK films. I have seen many films of the kind from this time period and this film is definitely one of the most hard core. A very sexual character ironically named Virgin constantly spouts sexual comments and has sex during the film. The graphic violence is definitely on display as well. In one scene, Jeff shoots across a room and the bullet goes right through a henchman’s face. The camera shows the back of the henchman’s head explode open as blood sprays out. It is rare for an HK film to give crucial attention to such violence. Therefore, Full Contact is not for the squeamish.
This film also has a great soundtrack. I stress this because most Chinese action films have pretty forgettable soundtracks. A Better Tomorrow has a great main theme, but that’s pretty much it. Full Contact has multiple hard rock songs and a lot of electric guitar riffs throughout the film. It really gives the film a hard rock/punk rock feel to it. This perfectly coincides with the outfits that many of the characters wear. Everyone seems to be dressed in some sort of flamboyant, revealing, or punk rock looking costume.
The film’s director, Ringo Lam, is most well known for his other Chow Yun Fat actioner, City on Fire. That film also is more focused on dramatic storytelling with action occuring only during the final 15 minutes. Ringo Lam is a great action director who has an eye for exciting action scenes and dramatically powerful stories. Full Contact is definitely my favorite film of his though. It is one of the best underrated heroic bloodshed films ever made.
REWATCHABILITY FACTOR: One to two times a year. While not entirely action packed, the film’s stylistic vibe and engrossing story makes it very rewatchable.
Full Contact (1993) directed by Ringo Lam
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