The alternative English title is more appropriate than the generic sounding Dead Target, as the film is basically one long chase through various exotic and scenic Thai locales.
A Caucasian treasure hunter (Corwin Sperry) and his militia are out to steal a precious Chinese relic in Thailand. Poon Chi-Man is a Chinese soldier who is entrusted with a pendant that holds the key to the whereabouts of the treasure (a jewel-encrusted crown). The pendant is sent to his grand-daughter (Sharon Kwok), a fitness instructor in Hong Kong, for safe keeping. However, she later receives a letter from her grandfather asking her to come to Thailand. On the outbound flight, she meets an Interpol agent (Chin Siu-Ho) and, after a shaky start to their relationship, the two team up to try and save grandad and find the relic.
Dead Target's strengths lie in the chemistry between the two charismatic leads, Sharon Kwok and Chin Siu-Ho (who were already married in real life when the film was made), and the Thailand setting, most of which is shot on location. The hunt for the treasure has our heroes chasing through massage parlours, crowded ladyboy clubs, shootouts aboard a train and coming face-to-face with indigenous tribesmen. The budget is clearly low but despite its shortcomings, the film moves along at a decent pace and offers up plenty of variety. Where else can you find a herd of elephants fighting and impaling the bad guys in a kung fu film?
The director takes full advantage of Sharon Kwok's looks and infectious smile, wisely keeping the camera on her whenever possible. During one chase, Kwok must have gone through at least four costume changes, ending up fending off some thugs in the street with just a bath towel around her!
Chin Siu-Ho is impressive as usual in the film's few fight scenes but these are marred slightly by some lame comedy. There is a touch of mild gore too with a bloody machinegun maiming near the start of the film and impalement by an elephant tusk.
Dead Target has all the right ingredients but somehow not everything gels as it should (for 'kung fu in the wild' done right, see Stone Age Warriors, 1991). A higher budget, a few more fights and some familiar faces in the cast may have helped. Although not a highlight of the genre, the film is still worth a watch for fans of Sharon Kwok or those looking for something different from the usual Hong Kong or Taiwan settings.
2.5 out of 5
Review sources: Star Entertainment, Laserdisc (Hong Kong) (Cantonese language with Chinese subtitles) ; Scholar / Long Shong, VHS (Taiwan) (Mandarin language with English subtitles)
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