Profile In Anger (1983)
by: Leung Kar Yan
the DVD at:
|I first saw the amazing Leung Kar Yan in Sammo
Hung's classic Warriors Two where he played legendary Wing Chun
master Leung Jan. Now, like most people I thought he was the real deal but
it turned out he didn't have classical martial arts training
as such. He was just good at mimicking what was shown to him.
Leung Kar Yan continued to work with Sammo on several productions in addition to stints with
directors such as Yuen Woo-Ping and Ronny Yu but in 1983, he decided
to make his own movie, the violent action- thriller Profile In Anger (a.k.a. Fight Spirit Of Hero).
Liang Chen-Yu (Leung Kar Yan) meets up with his fiancee (Pat Ha) at the airport. While there he spots his childhood friend Wang Chien-Hung (Damian Lau from Last Hurrah For Chivalry) and invites him home to catch up on old times. Wang is in Hong Kong for a specific reason though and that is to kill jewelry tycoon Wei Chaio (Cheng Yi from The Victim), who had Wang's father murdered to avoid any competition in his line of business. The hit on Wei fails and he now sends his henchmen towards Liang Chen-Yu and his fiancee to clean up all tracks...
A word I'll probably use one time too many in this review is decent but that is what Leung Kar Yan's directorial debut is, decent. The revenge plot and theme of this 80s production doesn't require any high level of filmmaking and on cue, it's apparent that this isn't a movie to showcase poignant filmmaking but action and stunts instead.
The actual filmmaker Leung is more noticeable during the beginning parts of the film where the plot is set up. The direction is acceptable but never really interesting as such. He sets aside time to set up his relationship and to show the happiness within it. That is all well and good but what it generates are a couple of really cheesy scenes where Leung is being at his most silliest. Definitely not the image I want to remember him from his work after he's gone. What he does well in this section of the film is to surround Damian Lau's character and intentions with a slight aura of mystery. It's not revolutionary story telling but a decent stepping stone for the narrative. Leung, together with Hoh Hung Kiu also creates a likeable character for himself, at least initially. He's now a wealthy man that still treats his friends well but that's never dealt with again as soon as the revenge plot kicks in. Then again the movie isn't about how nice he was in the beginning, it's about his revenge on the bad guys for causing havoc in his life.
The pacing up till the personal tragedy of Liang Chen-Yu's is acceptable but never really becomes any better than that despite we being treated to many action scenes along the way. Take Michael Chan's opening scene scene for example which is quite atmospheric but drags on a bit too long, losing slight in the atmos department. Newbie director Leung Kar Yan probably didn't yet know the point when audiences were starting to get bored but filmmaking is a learning process after all. Test out things, see if they work and if they don't, you know next time around what not to do. Leung's career as director in the end never became a prolific one although he did step behind the camera for 5 additional movies.
The action directors for Profile In Anger were Leung Kar Yan himself along with Luk Chuen (also actor in Killer's Romance). Leung Kar Yan was co-action director (alongside Yuen Biao and Lam Ching Ying) on the 1979 movie The Incredible Kung Fu Master but Profile In Anger doesn't show off balletic and neatly choreographed battles. The movie takes place in modern day the emphasis is on shorter fights and fairly complex stunt work. There's a good variation between those two elements and the memorable set pieces to me are Leung Kar Yan and Michael Chan's first fights plus the bar room brawl with Leung Kar Yan against a gang of motorcycle thugs. The latter scene does lose a little of its impact thanks to some very obvious breakable props, like the very hollow piano. There's a sense of ferocity and power in the action that overall is well choreographed but won't match some of the best stuff seen before or after this movie.
I've always admired and had a delightful time watching the kind of things Hong Kong filmmakers put into their movies, no matter how insane they are. You can expect anything from a Hong Kong movie and particular from some 80s productions. One scene sees Leung Kar Yan confronting a totally whacked out motorcycle gang that acts more like zombies and Philip Ko's bad guy character is a piece of work also. Equipped with scar makeup over half his body and giggling almost like a monkey most of the time (even his behaviour resembles a monkey somewhat), I sincerely hope no one in the crew took this kind of stuff dead serious but it's played serious in the movie. It's fun to watch and so is the changing length of Leung Kar Yan's beard throughout.
I found no info regarding possible nominations at the awards that year but I'm pretty certain Profile In Anger was left out, rightly so. Even if no one excels in the acting department there are some popular faces cast in this movie. Pat Ha doesn't get to do a lot besides being the woman for our leading man and she would later reach better heights as an actress in Alfred Cheung's On The Run. The main bad guy played by Michael Chan (recently seen in You Shoot, I Shoot) adds power to the film. He doesn't get to display any crazy traits like Philip Ko's character but he's one menacing force. You may not agree with that at first but wait until he beats up a little child, her father and then runs over her pregnant mother (...only in Hong Kong cinema...). Leung Kar Yan has proven to be a good actor outside of the action but his role here is hardly reference material. He's a decent hero and performs the action pretty well.
Profile In Anger is not a movie you will rush out and buy, nor should you. It may be suitable only for fans of Leung Kar Yan but if you want a decent action-thriller to distract you for 90 minutes, then why not when you get a good amount of brutality and unique, jarring scenes that Hong Kong filmmakers populated their movies with at times.
This title currently only has a mainland china release by WA. The slightly overmatted 1.88:1 (approximately) transfer looks good overall and boasts acceptable colours for a 20 year old movie. Some scenes the colours are way off and light print damage is seen throughout.
As with every WA title I've bought there's only a Mandarin 5.1 track on the disc and as with every WA title I've bought, there's an annoying echo on the track. It always stays centered but the echo is distracting. You never truly forget it's there but you're not bothered all the time by it.
The English subtitles are pretty good throughout with only minor spelling errors. A set of Chinese subtitles is also selectable.
There are no extras on the disc.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson