Finale In Blood (1993)

Directed by: Fruit Chan
Written by: Chan Hing-Kar & Cheung Siu-Han
Producers: Chua Lam & Tony Au
Starring: Lawrence Cheng, Tiu Gwan-Mei, David Ng, Chikako Aoyama, Peter Lai & Josephine Koo


Cheng Ming Pao (Lawrence Cheng - Inspector Pink Dragon) works at a radio station that has gained popularity via its ghost stories. Society is breaking down though and Cheng grabs an opportunity given to him by low-grade criminal Chen Chi (Peter Lai) to earn some extra bucks. Deal turns sour and Cheng ends up in the sea. About to drown, he is rescued by an umbrella, containing the spirit of Fong Yan (Tiu Gwan-Mei) who is looking for her lover Ma Kuang Shen (David Ng). She proceeds to lay down her tragic romance together with Cheng at the radio station. Thus creating another hit story and getting the message across to Ma...and his mistress (Chikako Aoyama)...

Fruit Chan was certainly around before Made In Hong Kong won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Picture in 1997, appearing both in front of the camera, mostly for comedic purposes, and even assisting Sammo Hung on the directing of Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and Dragons Forever. A chance eventually was given for maybe a semi-hungry filmmaker to direct on his own and from the get go, he didn't even have to desperately scour all possible resources to get together enough film stock to shoot (1*). Still, Finale In Blood is far removed from the train of thoughts that would launch Chan into king status within the indie realms of Hong Kong cinema.

Like his often employed cinematographer and composer Lam Wah-Chuen (2*), the initial stepping stones into filmmaking were of a different kind (3*). With the ghost-romance Finale In Blood, if you know Fruit Chan, you can spot ever so minor evidence of his future stances as a filmmaker, mainly through the social problems showcased. Make no mistake about it though, it isn't one bit about the 1997 concerns and if anything, it's Chan's early flirt with horror (4*). But since the script heavily flirts with the setup of Rouge, the film expectedly has a hard task of finding an own identity, although it certainly tries.

The dual cinematography team of David Chung and Peter Ngor (5*) has a playing field for sure, employing decent camera work and colour play and Chan's direction maintains that the film is not willing to be the equivalent of a cheapie. Humour finds its way into the film, both through slight satire when dealing with the heads of the radio station and some farce towards the end, leaning towards black. While not the worst attempt at mixing the moods up, this lighter side doesn't belong and really is one of many elements that fails to fly. The film suffers from being a xeroxed copy and you just have to look at what Stanley Kwan did so well in Rouge to appreciate what different levels we're at it here The proceedings in Finale In Blood at best halt as well as any intentions for achieving depth, even when going into the flashback of Fong Yan.

Her journey for one is questionable because she's one of those endless of females who is drawn to the worst there is. I.e. David Ng's womanizing ass Ma who proclaims he's on "moral holiday" as an excuse to sleep around. This choice in Chan Hing-Kar & Cheung Siu-Han's script makes it even harder for the film to achieve good results, especially when we see the final proceedings play out. It's unfortunate that it's not a strong character given to Tiu Gwan-Mei and she also suffers from not having a needed alluring presence akin to Anita Mui or Joey Wong. Maybe Fruit Chan had to deal with what he had but it's a fact that the casting choices does not flourish. That includes Lawrence Cheng doesn't particularly stretch himself either, playing his usual dorky character and while never intrusive since the film doesn't switch abruptly into comedy, Cheng really needed to bring a better sense of warmth and heart for his part of the film to work.

Fruit Chan can't bring it out either and that sums up Finale In Blood really. An above average looking production with trains of thoughts that has potential no doubt but when lackluster at script stage, it comes as no surprise that the final product isn't enhanced as such. To be fair, it's watchable, neither good, neither terrible but the middle ground isn't so pleasant either. Consider a watch if you want to complete the Fruit Chan filmography but it's not needed to complete the cycle.

The DVD:

Deltamac presents the film in an 1.85.1 aspect ratio approximately. Heavy wear can be seen from time to time. Colours are pale and sharpness only average. Budget disc, budget look.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 track appears to have no problems, presenting dialogue and effects in a relatively clear way. A Mandarin 2.0 track is also available.

The English subtitles stumbles on the grammar more than once but it's adequate overall as plot comes through in the translation. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. The trailer is the sole extra.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson

(1) A famous behind the scenes nugget from Made In Hong Kong. It really was ridiculously cheap but well-conceived.

(2) Collaborations includes all of Chan's films from Made In Hong Kong up till Hollywood Hong Kong.

(3) Lam had Category III of different kind made before the celebrated The Runaway Pistol in 2002. Namely The Beauty's Evil Roses and Devil Girl 18, made in 92 and 93 respectively.

(4) More recently shown in his contribution to Three...Extremes called Dumplings but I doubt Chan got the job based on Finale In Blood.

(5) David Chung is also the director of Royal Warriors, I Love Maria and Web Of Deception while Peter Ngor appropriately played the cinematographer in Viva Erotica as well as directing the visually glorious Erotic Ghost Story II .