The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zhi fa xian feng aka Righting Wrongs aka Above the Law (1986)

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I thought it was high time I did one of Cynthia Rothrock's Hong Kong films-- it was just a matter of finding one! Righting Wrongs was one I'd been meaning to do for a long time, and as it happened, a buddy got the Dragon Dynasty DVD, and let me borrow it. Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic also reviewed this as part of his Cynthia Rothrock Binge, but his copy was entitled Above the Law.

Righting Wrongs is a Corey Yuen directed feature that has Biao Yuen as a prosecutor who is fed up with criminals getting off on technicalities (that sounds bad, doesn't it?), so he takes the law into his own hands. Cynthia Rothrock is a police detective called in to investigate the murder of a criminal that Biao killed. When they bump into each other at another criminal's death-- one Biao didn't do-- they find they are at cross purposes, though they have similar goals. What will they do when it's revealed that Rothrock's superior is that criminal's killer?

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This is excellent stuff. It's pure Hong Kong, directed by Hong Kong master Corey Yuen, so we're talking fight scenes with the volume turned up to 11, and the knob ripped off and tossed into an exploding microwave. Also, this had some humor in it, and then did a weird thing, where it suddenly wasn't funny anymore. To be honest, I don't even know if it worked or not as a plot device, because the action was so great, it didn't matter. I guess it was a little weird, but not too weird. No, this one got it right, totally.

For strictly US fans of Rothrock's work, her Hong Kong films are very different. I personally like both the late 80s/early 90s Hong Kong action, and the DTV action from the same time period, but I can see why people would watch something like this, and think none of Rothrock's US efforts matched it in quality. She really brings it in some great fight scenes, especially one at the end with Karen Sheperd, who has a cameo just so she can do that fight. If all you've seen of Rothrock is her US DTV work, then you haven't really seen her.

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The bad guy in this had something of a Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind quality. Maybe it was the 'stash, or the hair, or the way he carried himself. When he had that enormous corkscrew against Rothrock's neck, he should've been like "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." I wonder what Clark Gable would've thought of this film. Would he have liked the soundtrack that sounded like an instrumental version of Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero"? That brings up another issue though, about whether or not he'd have liked Footloose. My favorite scene in Righting Wrongs came when Biao tried to throw the cops staking him out off the trail, so he stuffs an apple on the tailpipe, then dumps paint or something on their windshield. That was hilarious! Imagine me laughing hysterically at that, and Clark Gable sitting next to me on the couch.

Biao Yuen is awesome. That he's not better known over here is our fault, not his. This guy is as balls to the wall as any other Hong Kong action leads you can name. In Righting Wrongs, he is all over the place, repelling down buildings, hanging off of planes, jumping over cars, and getting involved in tons of too sweet fight scenes. All in a day's work. Biao Yuen: man.

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I decided to go out of my element a bit here, and watch this one dubbed, the way I used to watch Hong Kong films 15-20 years ago. It brought back lots of memories, and I think ultimately was the better way to go, just because it added an extra level of fun. In the end, no matter how serious one of these movies might get, it's all about how much fun we have watching them, and anything that adds to that is a bonus.

You can buy this on Amazon, but it's a little steep, so you make the call. I don't think you'd be disappointed, especially with the Dragon Dynasty transfer. I have no idea why it's out of print, but it is, so it's something we have to deal with. Hopefully that'll change eventually.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094374/

6 comments:

  1. Which ending did you see.(Everything about this film I said in the review, It's an awesome movie, a great companion piece with Police Story) But there are three different alternate endings. \

    (SPOILERS)

    Rothrock lives, A suicide ending, an ending where Rothrock dies and Biao lives and goes to jail, and one where they both die.

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  2. My buddy's DVD had all the endings, but the one that was actually in the film was the last one.

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  3. Glad you liked this one Matt, I think it might be my favorite from Rothrock's HK output and the fight between her and Sheperd was great. Bit of a downer that they never had a rematch Stateside to my knowledge.

    This is probably one of Biao's better modern action movies (i.e. not Dreadnaught or Knockabout) but my favorite is 88's On the Run. Awesome nihilist action movie with some noir tones to it, and a pretty grim experience overall. Like Righting Wrongs, it has a sorta bizarre ending and an alleged alternate ending floating around in different prints.

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  4. Nice Review! This is a great movie with some amazing fight scenes. We watched it for the site a few months ago and it will be posted soon!

    Another cool Biao Yuen movie is Knockabout.

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  5. Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions, I'll have to check those out. The more Biao Yuen, the better.

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  6. Dragons Forever would be a must. So would The Prodical Son,Knockabout, Wheels On Meals,Zu Warriors and Project A. This would be what you'd want to cover. The films where he joins forces with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung tend to be his most jaw dropping work. Dragons Forever as well as Wheels On Meals in particular...

    This though is his best work without Chan or Hung.

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