HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Men from the Gutter Desperate Lowlifes
Year: 1983
Director: Nam Nai Choi
Stars: Jason Pai Pao, Wong Yung, Lo Meng, Michael Mui Kiu-Wai, Chan Pui-Sai, Parkman Wong, Lung Tin-Sang, Lee Hoi-Sang, Billy Lau, Sherman Wong, Yeung Chi-Hing, Wong Ching-Ho
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: While escaping a police raid desperate criminal Wang Guantai (Parkman Wong) kills a cop. He hides out with his buddies, Brainless (Billy Lau) and Ah Long (Lung Tin-Sang), luckless brothers up to their eyeballs in gambling debts thanks to their feckless mum. Desperate to leave Hong Kong and start afresh elsewhere the men, along with Wang's pregnant girlfriend Lily (Chan Pui-Sai), plan an armed robbery. The cops, led by bespectacled badass Qiu Zhengming (Michael Mui Kiu-Wai) and fiery Sgt. Zhao (Lo Meng, formerly one of the Five Deadly Venoms (1978)), are on their trail. However, the investigation gets derailed by another case when curly haired, chameleonic hit-man Zi Jian (Jason Pai Pao) bumps off a triad bigshot (Lee Hoi-Sang) at a squash court. The murder turns out to be part of Jian's elaborate revenge plan against Xu Wen (Wong Yung), a powerful triad boss who made a fortune after betraying him in a drug deal. Eventually all these characters and subplots collide in an explosive finale.

Popular myth would have it the Shaw Brothers, fine purveyors of period kung fu films, closed their studio because they could not cut it in the modern market. Men from the Gutter shows that simply is not true. It is an outstanding, gritty, hard-edged crime thriller that gives a neon-lit glimpse into Hong Kong's grimy underbelly of smoke-filled gambling joints and roach-infested tenements filled with grubby, desperate lowlifes. Producer-director Johnny Mak is often credited with kick-starting the HK crime thriller genre with his excellent Long Arm of the Law (1984) but Shaw Bros. clearly got there first. Slick photography, a cool cod-Tangerine Dream electronic score (most likely sourced elsewhere) and some of the most visceral, exciting action sequences in Eighties HK cinema round out a classy package.

Scripters Leung Hung-Wah, later a prolific horror auteur (among others he directed A Wicked Ghost (1999), the HK version of J-horror classic The Ring) and Keith Lee Pak-Ling, who went on to write fine heist drama People's Hero (1988) and direct gross-out fright flick Centipede Horror (1982) and the altogether classier Shaw Bros. swordplay fantasy The Supreme Swordsman (1983), cram a lot of plot into eighty-three minutes providing a lesson in punchy, concise storytelling. The sprawling story deals with multiple characters and plot threads in a manner comparable with the best of Michael Mann (Heat (1995) in particular). Nam Nai Choi draws out hidden depths from kung fu stars Lo Meng and Jason Pai Pao who give earthy, impassioned, menacing performances far more morally ambiguous than the stoic archetypes they usually played.

Lo Meng and Michael Mui Kiu-Wai make a compelling chalk and cheese detective duo whose methods clash as they piece together the criminal conspiracy. However the film divides screen time equally between cops and crooks and takes time to explain the motives driving even the most despicable character. Without endorsing criminality it empathizes with folk on society's lowest rung. Wang Guantai only wants to settle down with Lily, Brainless and Ah Long desire a debt-free life, Zi Jian wants to avenge an injustice. None of these men are ice-cool criminal masterminds, but rather sweaty, nervous, desperate losers whose ill-thought-out plans fall apart in the most emotionally-shattering manner possible. The film features plenty of action that choreographers Yuen Wah and Yuen Bun deliberately stage in a chaotic, messy, 'realistic' fashion far removed from the more balletic style of mayhem in typical Shaw fare. Among the many breathtaking stunts Zi Jian rappelling down a skyscraper while a triad tries to cut his rope and the amazing dockyard finale (where characters leap across shipping crates, surf on car hoods and ride a wrecking ball straight through an office block) rank especially high. Nam Nai Choi's staging and camerawork are fluid and dynamic throughout though he is just as deft with smaller character moments (e.g. when Qui intimidates a restaurant full of triad thugs or charms a secretary at Xu's plush office) and nastier details like when Xu slaps his girlfriend in a crowded fancy restaurant simply because he can.

A prolific cinematographer Nam had little interest in becoming a director until close friend, actor-producer-director Danny Lee talked him into co-directing his Shaw Brothers romantic drama One Way Only (1981). Thereafter Nam grew increasingly confident in showing off his dual gifts as D.P. and director with the earlier, equally gritty crime thriller Brothers from Walled City (1982). Upon hitting his stride with Men from the Gutter, Nam made the silly comedy Three Stooges Undercover (1984) then left Shaw Brothers. Whereupon his glorious output of horror and fantasy action films (The Ghost Snatchers (1986), The Seventh Curse (1987), Peacock King (1988), The Story of Ricky (1991), The Cat (1992)) grew increasingly fantastical and outrageous.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2889 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: