Film Reviews

Wild Search (1989) – Blu-ray Review

Wild Search is the latest Hong Kong 80’s action flick to get a beautiful new Blu-ray release courtesy of Eureka Entertainment, and it sees Chow Yun-Fat playing a police officer who ends up having to protect a little girl after her mother is killed when a gun smuggling deal goes wrong.

On the surface, Wild Search seemed like it was going to be a gritty cop drama. The synopsis made it sound like Chow Yun-Fat was going to be putting his life on the line to defend this little girl against killers and criminals, and the trailer featured a lot of violence and bloody moments. But once I actually started watching the film I was surprised by how much comedy was in the mix, and how the real story seemed to be a romance between Chow Yun-Fat’s character and the aunt of the girl he was protecting.

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The story opens with an arms deal being made in a small Hong Kong flat. When the police arrive on the scene the deal goes wrong and the seller is killed, leaving her four year old daughter Ka Ka (Cheuk Yan Chan) as the only witness. Detective Lau Chung Pong (Chow Yun-Fat) tries to learn more about her and her family, which leads him to a rural family home in the countryside, where he meets Cher (Cherie Chung), Ka Ka’s aunt.

Lau and Cher become close over the course of his investigation, and working together they discover that a rich and powerful businessman named Mr. Hung (Paul Chun) was involved in the gun smuggling, and is also Ka Ka’s father. After confronting Hung, Lau and Cher become targets, and he sends deadly killers after them to make sure that his involvement in the illegal activities never comes to light.

Wild Search is a loose remake of the 1985 Peter Weir film Witness, and puts the focus squarely on the human drama rather than the action. The relationship between Lau and Cher is the focus of the film, and it’s never forced, instead building slowly over the course of the movie, helped in no small part by the clear chemistry that the two leads have. The small moments where the two of them are lightly teasing each other, or when Cher is trying to take care of Lau after he gets hurt, are some of the sweeter moments in the movie.

That being sad, there are a good few action moments spread out across the film, though these do feel slightly forced at times. There’s a moment where Lau engages into a high speed chase after a suspect without knowing which car he’s after, or what direction he’s supposed to be going in, leading to a high speed drive around the city with no real purpose. The moments where the action serves the story are the best though, and the climactic fight at Cher’s rural family home is probably the best one the film has to offer, and features a rather spectacular end kill that had me laughing out loud.

The new Blu-ray release offers a couple of different versions of the film: the original Cantonese dub and the original English dub. Whilst the Cantonese version is the closest to the original vision of the director, I have to admit I had a lot more fun with the English dub, and it resulted in quite a few more laughs. This was mainly due to how Ka Ka was played in the English version, where it was quite clear that they’d gotten an adult to do the child’s voice. This rather creepy, slightly posh voice coming out of a four year old was unintentionally hilarious, and ended up making the child feel quite creepy at times too. Obviously, this is not what the film was aiming for, but if you’re already familiar with the film and are looking for something slightly different that’ll be fun to watch I’d definitely advise giving that version a go.

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The disc also comes with a few extras, including a brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng, who offers a lot of insight into both the production and making of the film, as well as the impact the film had, and Asian cinema at the time. There’s also an archival interview with Roy Cheung, who plays the villainous killer Bullet in the movie, as well as a brand new interview with voice actor Simon Broad, who dubbed all of Chow Yun-Fat’s English language roles. The Limited Edition also comes with a great little booklet with writing by NEO Magazine’s David West, who provides insight into the movie.

Wild Search might not have been the film that I was expecting, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable film nonetheless, with some quirky comedy, some decent action, and a nice romance story at the heart of it.

Wild Search is out now on Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment as part of their Classics range.

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