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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.67%
Worth A Look: 20%
Just Average53.33%
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1 review, 9 user ratings

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High Risk
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by Chris Parry

"Heavy on the action, heavy on the slapstick, heavy on the fluff."
3 stars

In 1995, High Risk was supposed to be the first meeting of Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the same movie. It was going to be huge - massive budget, plenty of explosive set pieces, a storyline that was basically Die Hard with kung fu thrown in, and a guaranteed box office success. Only at the zero hour, Chan allegedly dropped out, citing a 'scheduling conflict'. A quick rewrite took place turning it into a satire ripping on Chan's image, and what was due to be a big action bonanza turned into a slapstick poke in the eye to Hong Kong's bigest star. Whether it's better or worse off for the change is tough to say, but what can be said is that Jackie Cheung, Chan's replacement, does a pretty good impression of the guy.

A group of gangsters raid a school and cram a couple of dozen kids onto a schoolbus wired with explosives. They want $5m or the kids and their teacher turn to dust. The catch, at least for the head cop that shows up (Jet Li), is that his kid and wife are on the bus. Suddenly the 'which wire do I cut' conundrum becomes all the mor sweat-inducing when you look up from the countdown clock to see your kid's nose pressed against the bus window.

So as the clock winds down, Li's assistant asks the big question. "Red or blue?" As the clock hits three seconds, Li yells out to go with the red. When the red is cut, the clock stops at one second left.

Rejoicing all around! The kids are saved, Li's a hero, we can all go to Sizzler and have cokes and... hey, why did the countdown clock just restart and flick over to zero?


You have to appreciate a director who can open a comedy film by toasting two dozen schoolkids in an explosion. I mean, not since Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park 2 have kids been so readily fed to Death without a blink of an eye. Of course, for Spielberg a couple of dead kids means a PG rating. For Miramax, a couple of dozen dead kids brings an R. Go figure.

So fast forward a few years and Li's got himself a new job as bodyguard to Frankie (Jackie Cheung), Hong Kong's action superstar of the hour. While Frankie claims to do all his own stunts, part of Li's job description is to sneak in and pretend to be the real deal when Frankie's too drunk or too scared to bother. But hey, it pays for the Paxil, so whatever.

Li's a pretty morose guy, being kept up all night with nightmares of his dead wife and kid, when things turn all pear-shaped again. A reception at a big hotel where rare jewels are being shown gets nasty when the same bad guys that killed off the Li clan take hostages while Frankie and Li are in attendance. Cue helicopters flying through ballrooms, car chases in elevators and more explosions and bullets than you could shake a yellow jumpsuit at.

High Risk is definitely big time action. The question is does the big time action mix with the big time comedy. For mine, it does sometimes, but not often. Unfortunately, Li is to comedy what Monica Lewinsky is to diplomacy - an embarassment. As cheung is buffooning his way through proceedings and every supporting actor seems intent on following his lead, Li looks almost bored by the activities around him, never getting above the level of monotone.

And when you see the other films he was making around the time, it's not hard to see why. Li is used to high flying wushu action and there's precious little of that on offer here. While Cheung gets a chance to show his chops towards the end, for the most part Li is stuck rolling around on the floor avoiding some of the tens of thousands of bullets fired at him every ten minutes.

One odd aspect of this film is the ratio of bad guys to innocents that get killed. It seems like an innocent person is killed every few minutes, and a good portion of them aren't killed by the bad guys, they're killed by the good guys. When Li commandeers a helicopter and flies it into a building full of hostages, it's tough to cheer him on. Ditto when a police car is squashed by the car he drove out of a window, I think we're supposed to laugh, not think "crap, a good guy just ate it because Jet's got shitty parking skills."

There's a lot of good in High Risk, but it is certainly more spectacle substance. Think of it as a Joel Silver movie, only with Jackie Chan-like comedy anda heap of references to other kung fu movies. It's worth a rental, but only if you're in the mood for 'big budget silly' or you want to know what Jet Li looks like when he's bored.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1358&reviewer=1
originally posted: 05/18/03 05:37:44
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User Comments

7/01/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Hit and miss action comedy. 3 stars
5/05/04 dead next door cool action and lots of fun. 5 stars
6/19/03 SEKA I liked the fight between Li and Rabbit. 5 stars
2/27/02 Waylon Roundtree Comedy a little too goofy, but this movie is fun as hell! 4 stars
9/09/01 Angga Dungga Jet Li is great, the girls are cute, but Jackie Cheung sucks... 4 stars
7/02/01 Boomshanka High speed, high action, the best that Li has done. 5 stars
4/19/00 TRC_872 Jacky is funny and Jet is usual ass kicking self! 5 stars
11/22/98 Lord Of The Dunce Jet Li is incredible as always, a bit hammy, but some supreme action and martial arts. 4 stars
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  02-Jul-1995 (R)


  02-Jul-1995 (M)

Directed by
  Jing Wong
  Corey Yuen

Written by
  Jing Wong

  Jacky Cheung
  Jet Li
  Valerie Chow
  Charlie Yeung
  Ma Wu
  Chung-Hsien Yang

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