Gun & Rose (1992)
by: Clarence Ford
Almost the same cast that from Return Engagement and Naked Killer director Clarence Ford got together and made one of many John Woo imitators, Gun & Rose from 1992. John had achieved success with his combination of ballistic gunplay and melodrama in his movies and many other productions tried to do the same. However this is probably one of the worst attempts and additions to the heroic bloodshed-genre, although there may be worse.
Alan (Alan Tang from Return Engagement) is the adoptive son of elderly triadboss Lung (Chen Feng from Fist Of Fury). Despite being adopted he is favoured most by Lung, something that doesn't sit well with his real sons Simon (Simon Yam from Bullet In The Head) and Bowie (Bowie Lam from On The Run). After an assassination attempt on Lung's life where Bowie was unable to protect his father, a series of events are set in motion. Simon is given the task of killing off his own brother because of his failings and he then goes after Alan to get some sort of revenge. He stages an attack during Alan's wedding where his bride Monica (Monica Chan from Full Alert) gets shot and is eventually paralyzed. Alan escapes with her to from Taiwan to Hong Kong in an effort to leave the triad life behind but as these things go, you can't leave your past behind that easily...
There have been pretty good attempts to cash in on the John Woo-trademark action (like the mentioned Return Engagement) but Gun & Rose is a total disastrous movie from beginning to end. The movie has hardly any time to start before events are taking place at a frantic pace and not much is explained to the viewer regarding backstory or how the characters relate to each other. There is also quite a number of plot holes and illogical events during the first 10 minutes, even before the main plot is addressed! One of the biggest leap of faiths is the love between Alan and the hospital nurse Monica. After being treated rather badly by Alan minutes before, she's seen in a few scenes later having dinner and falling in love with him. Nothing in the script or direction suggests any kind of motivation for this and because of this their love throughout the entire movie is completely unbelievable.
During the beginning moments of the film there are also action scenes inserted without much rhyme or reason. Maybe the triads and Alan knows who they're attacking but the audience sure don't. If this was director Clarence Ford's way of getting some attention and hoping the audience wouldn't question certain things, he failed. The action are basically the only slightly good thing about this 1992 production. They're fairly creative but suffers from a few things, one of them being the fact that they're not very long. Also Alan Tang isn't much of an action hero and the main credit should really go to his stunt doubles. On the other hand, he was the producer so I don't think anyone was steeping up to comment his lack of ability.
The film almost does a total 180 when the plot is diverted and set in Hong Kong for almost the remainder of the film. It's here that the Andy character played by Andy Lau (quite convenient for this reviewer that the actors have the same name in the movie as they do in real life) is introduced. Actually his introductory scene I thought was unusual and quite cool. He is seen playing a daredevil game with another gang member onboard a burning and soon to explode bus. Alan Tang's character takes a backseat in the narrative and we're instead following triad wannabe Andy and his conflicts with another gang. Since Alan acts more weak as opposed to his gangster persona, Andy thinks he can teach him what it takes to be a cool gangster. This could've created some nice dynamic but god is it ever boring and slow paced. We didn't care about anything before and these new turns didn't generate any interest either. There's hardly any action either but all we get instead are lame confrontations with the rival gang with Alan as the main punching bag. Also the usual broad Cantonese humour is evident (mostly in the scenes with Carrie Ng) but Stephen Chow need not worry about his status in Hong Kong comedy cinema.
Despite huge weaknesses in the beginning of Gun & Rose, Clarence still paces the movie fairly well but when we get to Hong Kong all that is gone and it's a long journey it seems til the end of the movie. Maybe he couldn't do much with Wai Ka-Fai's (director of Peace Hotel) script but he sure doesn't come off as a very competent director in this movie. Clarence went on to make Naked Killer which is bad but compared to Gun & Rose it suddenly ranks very high. I recommend watching Iceman Cometh instead to see some potential in Clarence Ford.
Alan Tang, Andy Lau and Simon Yam look like they went straight from the set of Return Engagement to make this one and they were probably under contract for Alan Tang, hence them appearing in this junk. Alan in the lead role is from the start a very hard and cool triad, at least that is what's written. Alan does not convey these traits very well and comes across as very bland when he's supposed to tough. He's better when he plays it more natural and subdued like we saw in Return Engagement so in the second act of this movie he becomes the character a little more.
Andy Lau has proven in the last few years that he can act (in A Fighter's Blues for example) but it's very evident in Gun & Rose that he was trying to mimic someone elses way of performing. Chow Yun-Fat springs to mind when all we is Andy trying to look cool and suave but he ultimately fails. It's a forced and annoying performance, one that Andy probably would like to forget about. Supporting cast includes Leon Lai and Carrie Ng with Leon as the hitman out to get Alan and Carrie as the woman in love with Alan. Leon tries his best but in the end doesn't seem like the right guy for the role. That has mostly to do with the youth and the little charisma Leon shows in this role. The hitman character needs a bit grittiness to him but Leon can't bring that. Carrie has to perform the so called comedy scenes which as mentioned aren't very comedic. She looks sexy though.
Some movies are unfairly destined to be obscure forever but Gun & Rose is one that should remain unknown forever. Not essential unless you're an Andy Lau completist.
Megastar's dvd is 1.78:1 anamorphic and looks pretty good for a movie made 10 years ago. Colours are vivid and blacks are deep creating a really surprisingly good image. Print damage is distracting but still kept to a fair minimum. Good work Megastar although this movie didn't deserve to look this good.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 is very front based and only uses the front speakers for the occasional effect or two. Again I had to turn up the center channel to get the dialogue properly centerbased, a sound problem found on a few Megastar discs I own. Mandarin and English 5.1 tracks are also included.
The English subtitles are for the most part really bad to the point of catastrophical. Thank god it wasn't a plot driven films as such since almost every sentence has a spelling error or is strangely structured. Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Malaysian, Bahasa Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available.
The only extra is the action filled theatrical trailer which has the alternate title Dragons In Action on it.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson