Taxi Hunter Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by 88 Films

Directed by Herman Yau
Written by Lau Yin, Ray Mak, Herman Yau and Leung Hung Wah
1993, 89 minutes, Not Rated
Released on August 29th, 2023

Starring:
Anthony Wong as Ah Kin
Yu Wing Kwong as Sgt. Yu Kai-Chung
Ng Man Tat as Sgt. Gao
Athena Chu as Mak Suet-Yan

Review:

Ah Kin is a mild-mannered insurance salesman looking forward to becoming a father in the coming weeks. He is good at his job and well-respected by his co-workers. One night, an accident involving a selfish cab driver leaves Kin devastated, uncertain how to carry on. The following days are spent in something of a fog as he watches the city around him with fresh eyes. He sees how corrupt cab drivers are and how rudely they treat their patrons. Kin decides to take matters into his own hands to punish these offenders and buys a gun. His justice is swift, his vengeance knows no limits, but he is no master criminal and it is only a matter of time before he is caught.

Taxi Hunter sounds like a Category III (Hong Kong’s most restrictive rating) dream project, re-teaming director Herman Yau (The Untold Story) with actor Anthony Wong (Ebola Syndrome) for a tale of vigilante street justice – count me in. It comes as some surprise Yau shows previously unseen restraint, as this picture contains no strong language, nudity or overly-graphic violence, earning a rating of Category II (equivalent to our PG-13). The film is still gripping and Yau generates several suspenseful sequences. There are also two high-energy car chases that bookend the picture. Working from a script he co-wrote with Lau Yin, Ray Mak and Leung Hung Wah, Yau taps into public sentiment for a gripping thriller.

Wong proves his charisma extends beyond blood and mayhem, as he carries this picture with ease. There are several tender moments that showcase what a good guy Kin truly is. He is gentle and loving with his wife, kind to those around him and goes out of his way to avoid conflict. In one scene he buys a sad child a gift to encourage him to stop crying. It is really nice seeing Anthony Wong get the chance to play a troubled good guy for once. He is great as a scummy villain, but his performance in this movie caught me off guard.

Taxi drivers in 1990’s Hong Kong were notoriously unpopular for their price gouging and rude demeanor. Not all were bad apples, but it was a significant problem, leaving the general public feeling dejected. Vigilante films have been a popular subgenre for decades, with movies like Death Wish and Vigilante striking a nerve. When Taxi Hunter was released, it was met with much success. A Hong Kong spin on movies like Taxi Driver, Falling Down and the aforementioned Charles Bronson franchise, Herman Yau’s dark tale hits a nerve as it places the law in the hands of the common man.

The supporting cast is great, particularly Yu Wing Kwong (Iron Monkey) as Kin’s best friend, Sgt. Yu Kai-Chung. The cop is on the trail of the mysterious vigilante and confides his theories to his friend Kin, allowing the cycle to continue. Also effective, though incredibly annoying, is Ng Man Tat (Tiger Cage) as Sgt. Gao, a man obsessed with American fashion to the point of being a cartoonish buffoon. Athena Chu (Fight Back to School 2) is also quite good as Mak Suet-Yan.

Taxi Hunter is an engaging adventure tale of a decent man pushed too far and what he does to right some wrongs. Whenever Herman Yau and Anthony Wong work together, audiences are in for a treat, and this film is no exception. Could it have been more exploitative and over-the-top? Sure, but the very restraint applied makes the picture that much more powerful.

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is at an all-time high and is likely the best this film is ever going to look. The old DVD is very dark and it is difficult to follow the action. 88 Films has done a remarkable job with this restoration, as colors have never appeared richer. Black levels are deep and there is a fine layer of grain throughout.

An LPCM 2.0 Chinese mono track gets the job done with its strong music cues and immersive sound effects. The track is free from any hiss, pops or other distortion. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Special Features:

Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng provides a thoughtful and informative audio commentary, starting with actor and director bios and filmographies. He goes on to offer a history of the corrupt taxi frustration in Hong Kong and continues with discussion of the film’s themes, homages, influences and locations. He does occasionally lapse into onscreen narration of the action in various scenes.

In Hunting for Words (29 minutes), screenwriter/producer Tony Leung Hung-Wah speaks about how he got into the Hong Kong film industry and how this project came together. He talks about the Taxi Driver influence and writing the script. This interview is in Chinese with optional English subtitles.

Action director James Ha discusses his work on the film in How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? (27 minutes) and shares several interesting production stories about specific stunts and working with Yau and Wong. This interview is in Chinese with optional English subtitles.

Falling Down in Hong Kong (18 minutes) catches up with star Anthony Wong, who shares how he got into acting and involved with this film. He discusses the inspiration for his character, talks about the troubles with taxi drivers and shares his thoughts on the ending and playing a good guy. This is a fantastic interview conducted in English.

A photo gallery (25 images) featuring a collection of production stills is included.

A theatrical trailer provides a look at the film’s ad campaign.

Grades:

Movie: Cover
Cover
Video:
Audio:
Features:
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Other articles by this writer

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