i can’t quite remember why the last blood made our die hard-ish list. after having watch it a second time, i’m still not quite sure. it’s a pretty entertaining hong kong action movie and there are certainly die hard elements in it, though not die hard 1. there are just enough die hard components in it that i can justify a post during die hard on a blog month.
i do remember that i wanted to do crocodile hunter, wong jing’s first die hard-ish movie from 1989. but i’ve seen that one before and only the second half is die hard-ish. also there’s the fact that it’s going for about $20-$40 on amazon (it’s also on some foreign streaming tube site, but tv is the way movies are meant to be seen).
it would be like calling hard-boiled die-hard-in-a-hospital. it’s just not right.
speaking of hard-boiled, the last blood was actually released in the u.k. titled hard-boiled 2. yes, both movies have two people pointing guns at each other, and end in a hospital. but the similarities ends there. the two movies are totally unrelated. oh, and there’s also the little fact that the last blood actually came out a whole year before john woo’s classic.
the movie opens with words about gulf war episode 1 and terrorism, it sure makes the movie feels dated doesn’t it? it may have been relevant in 1991, but who could relate to that in 2011? after that we get not one but two how-bad-ass-is-he scenes that set the tone for the movie. in fact, the two heroes and the two villains all got their own decent introductions.
anyway, the plot involves a mostly japanese terrorist group (the default race of choice as villains in 80s and 90s hong kong movies) who plan on killing the spiritual leader daKa lama while he’s in singapore. on the same flight, a hong kong triad leader played by andy lau (god of gamblers, infernal affairs, running out of time, fulltime killer, house of flying daggers…), and his girlfriend are going on vacation to singapore. with the lama and lau’s girlfriend both shot upon arrival, lau and interpol agent played by pop star alan tam (operation condor), have to team up to get the only person in singapore (eric tsang) who shares the same rare blood type to the hospital so both the lama and the girlfriend will live.
if that sounds complicated, the movie actually does a way better job at telling the story that i did, which is rather quite amazing for an action movie. most dtv action movies nowadays seem to have unnecessarily complicated plot points but in the last blood they did it just about right. they even managed to throw in quite a few twists and turns and surprises that make it better than a lot of dtv movies. it’s at the perfect middle level between simplistic and overcomplicated for a movie like this.
like most wong jing movies, the last blood switches between almost unbearable goofy comedy and brutal hardcore violence. he’s kind of like a one man roger corman, michael bay, jerry bruckheimer and joel silver combo, making movies that are hated by critics but made money at the box office. although the last blood was only a moderate success considering the star power and its entertainment value, his movies are often deemed crass and “trashy.” i can honestly say that good or bad, none of his movies i’ve seen are ever boring. though his strong suit is comedy, he’s smart enough to hire decent action directors when it’s needed. in this one, there are fist fights, gun fights, and car chases that are creative and fun enough that you forgive the logical lapses and short sequences. he’s not trying to be an artist. and it’s naive to think that an industry can survive solely on wong kar-wai or johnnie to without some wong jing thrown in every once in a while.
the performances are overall decent. it helps that if you know both leads are played by pop idols instead of martial artists. like most wong jing movies, there are plenty of meta cultural references that only people familiar with hong kong pop culture of the time will get (i counted three times where the characters mention their real names).
andy lau was in his teen idol era, so he’s pretty much the demographic bait element in the movie, much like he did in god of gamblers and many other wong jing/andy lau productions. the villains are the only downside in this department. jackson lau and chin ho, as the japanese and mandarin speaking terrorists overacts and are shot in such a way that they belong more on wwe than an action movie, unless said action movie is made by the asylum. eric tsang has the joe pesci role a la lethal weapon 2 – 4, before he turned into a jack nicholson type heavy, so a lot of people seem to find him annoying and unfunny. yes, his subplot ran a bit too long and the movie turns somewhat lackluster without tam and lau, but thankfully, tsang’s scenes are not as dated and groan-inducing as the lucky star series.
as the second wong jing die hard-ish movie, the last blood doesn’t feel as directly ripped off as crocodile hunter, at least while you’re watching it. i love the many little twists and turns that he came up with, and almost every character and every sequence has something unexpected. the hard-boiled comparison is unfortunate. it’s a pretty entertaining way to kill 90 minutes. it’s definitely one of wong jing’s better movies. should not be missed by fans of shane black, steve e. de souza, the last boy scout, the long kiss goodnight, or shoot ’em up.
the last blood
the pitch: die hard in singapore
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: much like crocodile hunter, it’s split into two characters. one’s intellectual and logical (alan tam) and one’s more “street” (andy lau). you can tell which is which cause one wears glasses.
the gruber factor: jackson lau and chin ho. overacted and not quite well characterized, they nevertheless provided serviceable menace.
the hans objective: they didn’t really explain why they want to kill the daKa lama so badly. i guess we’re on a need-to-know basis.
wrong place at the wrong time: the literal translation of the chinese title is “the horrific twelve hours,” which is die hard-ish. but the ticking clock factor is barely mentioned during the movie. they’re not really trapped in singapore. the two people our heroes care about just happened to be shot and in hospital in singapore.
the help: tam kind of works with a friend who’s a local cop. lau’s traid gang just happens to be in singapore at the same time, which turns out to be a bit helpful.
the family element: triad girlfriend and lama.
bonfire of the weaponry: the good guys seem to have only pistols, but the terrorists have everything from machine guns, gatlin guns, grenades, to knives.
last man standing: there’s a fifteen minute climax at the hospital, though there’s no two on one fight scenes.
unbearables: there’s a giant white teddy bear at the airport like in die hard 1. also the educated vs. street smart aspect is touched upon. there’s a lovely twist on the mcclane meeting hans from die hard 1 late in the movie. there are shots at the airport and a motorcycle chase that are replica/reminiscent of die hard 2. they run around the whole city kinda like die hard with a vengeance. another nice twist here is the agent’s cop friend, the al from die hard 1 & 2. there’s a somewhat annoying macguffin character that echoes joe pesci’s character in the lethal weapon movies. early on in the movie, the interpol agent said “i can feel tomorrow is going to be a long day,” which kind of reminds me of that line in con air: “i hope everything goes smoothly. all these monsters on one plane.”