My Father is a Hero
AKA: My Father is Hero, The Enforcer
Director: Corey Yuen
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Stars: Jet Li, Anita Mui, Tze Miu, Yu Rong Guang, Bonnie Fu, Blackie Ko
A Mainland undercover cop (Li) is sent to Hong Kong to infiltrate a gang of smugglers led by Yu Rong Guang. Trouble is, he's so deep undercover that he can't tell his dying wife (Fu) or his kid (Tze) what he really does for a living. Li wants to get out of the undercover division but his commander won't let him. So he heads to HK, where he helps the smugglers steal some bombs. Of course, the HK police don't know Li is an undercover cop, so this attracts their attention, and they send Anita Mui back to Li's village to get information on him. Mui meets the wife and kid just as the wife dies and she realizes the truth behind Li. Taking the kid in tow, she heads back to HK, where the smugglers have hatched a plan to hold wealthy patrons on a yacht hostage with the stolen bombs.
My Father is a Hero is a rarity among action films -- it has a heart. This is especially suprising since the script was written by Wong Jing, who is normally not known for his writing skills or for putting anything other than sex and violence in his films. Though, to his credit, Wong has a long list of writing credits which run the gamut from comedy to drama to romance; it just seems as if most of his more recent action films have pigeonholed him a bit, especially to Western viewers.
Getting back on topic, My Father is a Hero does fall into melodrama at some points, but it doesn't seem as hammy or heavy-handed as in other films, since there's actually some character development here. This development creates believable relationships between the characters, especially (as the title suggests) between Li and Tze. One particularly moving scene has Li having to beat up Tze in order to keep his cover intact. The kind of violence expressed here might be repugnant to most Western audiences, but if you look beyond the bloodshed, you can see the compassion Li has for his son. Li manages to get more done with a simple look than any of the overwrought speeches in the Once Upon a Time in China series could ever hope to.
Corey Yuen is known for his good action sequences (especially those involving Jet Li) and he doesn't disappoint here. If you enjoy high-flying wire-fu, you should have a field day with this film. One scene even has Li using Tze as a human morningstar against a group of thugs. Even Anita Mui hops into the mix, teaming up with Tze to beat up some bad guys. Tze himself is quite impressive in the movie, especially in one scene where he beats up a schoolyard bully (it also helps things out that Tze has dropped the "precocious kung-fu brat" shtick he used in other movies). My only complaint about the action is that there wasn't enough of it. The movie is a bit slow-moving in the middle and another action scene or two would have spiced things up.
Note: the US version The Enforcer has an okay dubbing job and very nice picture and sound. Most importantly, it is uncut, save for a bit of dialogue that didn't translate well.
A review of the DVD for this movie (US version) can be found here
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