Country: Hong Kong
Director: Ang Saan
NOT WORTH YOUR TIME
Meet Kun (Stanley Fung). He’s an ordinary family man who works as a barber, a loving father with an adoring girlfriend. But unfortunately, Kun’s son is ill. He’s going to need a kidney transplant, which will cost $200,000 cash, no credit. This drives Kun to moonlight as an assassin.
Kun’s latest job is to wipe out the business partners of Hung Kuay (Wong Wai).
After the first assassination, top cop Inspector K. K. Lee (Melvin Wong) is assigned to the case.
Now, that basic plot is old hat (although in all fairness, it probably wasn’t so much in 1984), but it’s a sturdy enough basis for a movie. But you have to embellish, provide twists and turns and surprises.
Instead, the script by the Dung Ying Screenwriter Team is as rote as they come.
Throughout most of the movie, neither the villains or the heroes engage in any strategy worthy of the name. Folks just go straight up to other folks and shoot at them.
For example, K. K. Lee is supposed to be a hotshot cop, but his handling of a hostage situation is moronic, and should have led straight to tragedy and a demotion.
And Kun is even dumber. While the cops are guarding a witness in a house, he sets up a sniper’s perch several buildings away. Does he wait for the cops to escort the victim to the courthouse? That might make some sense, although any sensible cop would put bags over several people’s heads so that the target would be impossible to pick out, but no. Kun’s strategy is to wait for some fool to open the curtains and give him a clear shot.
Then at the end of the movie, when Kuay is holding Kun’s son hostage, what does Kun do? He drives straight into their trap, knowing he’s outgunned 20 to 1.
Now, this is the only part of the movie when anyone shows the slightest cleverness. Kuay sets up numerous obstacles for Kun and K. K. Lee to get through. But it kind of sucks that the bad guys are so much smarter than the heroes.
Director Ang Saan and the screenwriters let down the lead actors, who do a fine job. Stanley Fung is convincing as a family man who is pushed to extreme measures to protect his son. Margaret Lee is wonderful as Kun’s girlfriend, Yin. As an actress, she’s always listening and reacting in a truthful way. The part is underwritten, but she makes the most of it. Actually, the section of the movie that deals with Kun’s family life is much more effective than the action elements.
Melvin Wong is his usual reliable self. And as Hung Kuay, Wong Wai finally gets a chance to exult in his villainy in the third act. If only the screenwriters had given him more opportunities during the movie to be creatively sleazy and duplicitous.
In addition to flat plotting, the filmmakers compound their sin by failing to make the action exciting. The martial arts choreography is poor to non-existent. Director Ang Saan fails to move the camera to create excitement in the action scenes. Only the ending, which includes attacks by fork lift and dropping crates, raises the pulse at all.
This will not do.
Finger On The Trigger is a lazy, poorly thought out would-be action thriller.
After this dud, the Dung Ying Screenwriter Team never had another credit. Good. Ang Saan went on to helm one more film after Finger On The Trigger and had action director duties on two more, so the damage he did to the Hong Kong film scene was limited.
On the other hand, lead actors Stanley Fung, Melvin Wong, Margaret Lee, and Wong Wai had considerable success through the rest of the 80s and into the 90s.
That’s some consolation for sitting through Finger On The Trigger, but not enough.
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