19 November 2002 | Bogey Man
Nice satiric touches and Anthony Wong
Hong Kong film maker Herman Yau's TAXI HUNTER (1993) was made at the same year as his harrowing and disturbing THE UNTOLD STORY, both starring Anthony Wong. In TAXI HUNTER, Wong plays a good-natured insurance agent who has a young wife who is pregnant. One sad night she is rudely ill-treated by a taxi driver who causes her and her unborn baby's death. This makes Anthony start his own war against the city's "bad taxi drivers" as he starts to wipe them out. It turns out that the city has a horrible amount of evil and rudely dangerous and selfish cab drivers who don't care of anything else than themselves.
The film is like a Hong Kong variation of Hollywood's FALLING DOWN (1993), starring Michael Douglas and directed by Joel Schumacher. Wong becomes a criminal and still he is very sympathetic person and depicted as a good citizen and human being, and he even lets couple of drivers go alive because he thinks "they're good" and thus don't deserve to die. He is determined to kill all the bad drivers off and all he has as a motivation is just revenge and hate and he doesn't realize (until perhaps the end) that what he does, is very wrong and unlawful, too. The film can be seen as a warning example of what might happen, and this film was also based on real events in Hong Kong and their taxi drivers. The ending is distantly similar to THE UNTOLD STORY even though it is much "safer" and doesn't end unhappily. Still it shows harrowingly how community may turn into a beast and avenging brute as suddenly as the original criminal did, and if Yau had wanted to, he could have done this film as merciless and powerful as STORY. But this is much more optimistic and nicer film and that way it is meant to be, too.
The film is casted very well and it includes Yu Rong Guang (TERRA-COTTA WARRIOR), the sweet Perrie Lai Hoi San and the veteran Ng Man Tat. The film is co-written by director Yau and Tony Leung Hung-Wah who has directed and written films like A LAMB IN DESPAIR (1999) and FORBIDDEN ARSENAL (1991).
The film takes place mostly at night and the dark streets and roads are shot with skill and atmosphere and the soundtrack reminded me occasionally of Danny Lee's DR. LAMB and its music. And both films include plenty of taxis! There's also a fierce gun battle and car chase at the beginning but I think it's just there to secure the audience's attention because that scene doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the film. Also another dangerous looking car chase takes place later on in the film so Yau can also direct impressive action scenes if the film requires that.
The film came during the strongest Category III boom in Hong Kong but still TAXI HUNTER lacks all the exploitative elements and isn't even rated CAT III. It is easily among the most interesting and ambitious films of that time and once again proves the talent of director Yau. This is also Anthony Wong's favourite of all the films he's starred in. TAXI HUNTER gets at least and after first viewing 8/10 and is again another pretty unique and interesting film from the great Hong Kong.