Such movie does not feature the best gun scenes, they look like plastic dollar store revolvers that shoot spark powder plus no technique or tactics yet the shock of pulling a gun on something is there; it also doesn't have the best hand-to-hand combat, far from it really considering the experts cast although it is nervous arm-flinging fighting in desperation, the same that makes seasoned trainers look like fear-stuck thugs; its plot is not even that good to begin with and "suffers" from the classic Shaw Brothers syndrome of its late years in trying to inject gear-grinding comedy into many scenes but at the end of the day the thing that strikes me the most is that characters, as poorly or greatly as they might be written, have in them action consequences and intentions that make this movie not feel like two ritualistic men personifying elegant animals in combat or two quasi-immortal hitmen flying with a gun in each hand, but a pair of seemingly-competent protag and villain committing several not-so-much mistakes but instinctive, idiosyncratically-coherent actions that doom their lives.
All this context and now-long-winded post was simply to say that this picture despite having its shortcomings seems to have, for me, all its pieces work and work well, so well in fact that due to said production attempting to do several things at once and achieving them with both the characters suffering the physical & emotional consequences and the viewer the "i have no mouth and i must scream" sentiment of being a witness in a shitshow that this visual narrative effort i believe, no, i refuse to accept that this was an accident of circumstance or an entire sentimental product of my personal collective experiences being moved slightly.
Said product might not be 9 or 8 in a 10 scale of action goodness, nor a 8 or 7 in a very specific sub-set of rules like H2H, set design or gun fighting, but this movie certainly is a 6 in many areas some of which i haven't seen being combined so effortlessly or that i knew could be tackled directly into a gangster movie although that may be because i checked it without expecting nearly as much consistency. This consistency, including the "shock" moments which are predictable but you still don't want to see them, is coupled with a crucial thing in the script (which i repeat don't think were made without thinking about them) said thing is the rational irrationality of its characters, being unnervingly pushed over or cornered like desperate animals, it sounds dumb but people are animals sometimes and i've seen such cases IRL, they are not often showcased on film because it makes seemingly smart characters dumb or merely said actions "are not realistic" for people in their positions. But it happens and it happens a lot, people are irrational, the dumb act on instinct and the clever are ritualistic, common sense is not that common.
That's what makes this movie feel real without feeling like watching a real documentary, it's a dramatization of violent men who start acting way too real mid-way for someone who has seen stuff, it is dumb and doesn't make sense but in its explicit ways it does make sense when seeing the characters act in primordial instinct and out of fear/rage which in turns becomes vulgar displays of power: Irrational but with a shallow, implicit logic sense behind them that often were also unjust. This felt like real violence.
To put it shortly in a lapidary, "quote this on the poster" way: This movie taken in parts is not that special, if anything it is toned down and not very developed for what it is in the blood opera genre to the point of smirking or chuckling, but as a whole it's the first time i've seen something that felt like watching Saw and cuckold porn at the same time in terms regarding the type of feeling, and boy it is not arousal.
It is funny to think one of the kung fu genre's most emblematic villain actors wrote, starred and directed it.
I might be overselling this by a mile but i repeat this is a rock i stumbled upon in my journey and own belief system, this was a defining point on what violence really looks like to me other than the villain not killing the children (absurdity!) or hate-raping the co-protagonist, as acid and unglorified it seems in its "small" but most important scenes. A rock for you might be another particular movie that grabs your balls in a way your gonads do not like or haven't encountered before. For me this made me reach a certain entertainment-wise peak, this case violence, that i think will not be surpassed in a short while... and for that i think this is an interesting gem to see for people deep into a genre who prouds its stock characters in moral and logical behavior high grounds, if you see this without a similar trip you might as well watch City On Fire again (or for the first time, good movie).
Still, i might feel like this because it's only the fifth film i've watched in 5 or 6 months but also the fifth in the last 5 days.