Beyond the self.
A champion of the illegal public road racing is a king of the sandcastle. When his fantasy was broken by a motorcycle crash, Joe finally recognized what he must catch up. It’s himself. Only a man who overtakes himself can be a winner. No crown, no escapism. There is only a moment of truth.
- フル・スロットル 烈火戦車
- Pony Canyon / Twin 2005年09月21日 DVD
- English title: Full Throttle
"Full Throttle" is one of the popular 90s Andy Lau titles. Nevertheless, Japanese DVD became rare and got the double price of the original because of a problematic Japanese publisher. This company was then a big, but nowadays is going to sink. They are not capable to republish their old VHS or DVD anymore, but still hold the publish rights. Many important Hong Kong 80-90s films are still missing because of them.
I had been searching this Japanese DVD, visited over 40 shops around Tokyo, but no luck. In Hong Kong, Blu-ray version is released. While I had been thinking about purchasing it, I coincidentally came across a used Japanese DVD with just 950 yen (about 10 USD) in a shop on an isolated street. That was a pure exciting moment for a cinephile like me. A hidden treasure discovered. It’s not a rental DVD, the condition is not bad though the cover is a little tanned.
By the way, I sometimes see an article mentioning to this film along with my special favourite The Moment of Romance. Andy plays a bad boy biker in both films, but there is no any similarities of the subject.
Andy plays the protagonist "Joe" who is respected as a champion of the illegal motorcycle racing on the public road from the runaway boys of Hong Kong. The most featured motorcycle is Honda NSR250R MC28. So, this story handles 250cc class racing, but not intensively mentions to the mechanic or technique. It’s focusing to the life of a rider.
The aspect of the film is in the genre of Baribari Legend, 極速狂飆 in Chinese. However, this film never praises the runaway act. It never cheers the youth going to die in vain. This is the clear difference from Japanese manga that shows only the fashion. This film tells "Reality". So, it never be faded regardless of the age.
In other words, even a kid can’t escape into a dream over this film. The story is quite serious. It includes certain tragedies. This is not an irresponsible entertainment aiming a cheap thrill of the speed. This is the colour of the director Derek Yee who truly loves the motorcycle. This film is dedicated to the professional riders on Macau Grand Prix. I agree with the whole concept of this film. I’m ordinary but a motorcycle rider.
Enemy inside the self
The story never describes Joe as a hero. A champion of the illegal race is literally a "king of the sandcastle". After a serious motorcycle accident in the illegal race against the professional rider "David", he was fallen down from his throne. In consequence, almost his everything was lost. His trusted friends were actually the temporal followers who just take the advantage from him. Only his girlfriend "Yee" was still with him. Her unconditional love saves Joe.
When Joe challenges another race, Yee also decided to leave from him. She could not endure her anxiety anymore after Joe’s motorcycle crash. On the other hand, Joe holds on the race for overcoming the fear from the accident. This is a classic scheme between man and woman, but it’s forever dramatic from the man’s point of view.
Joe confronts against his trauma in the race. The true enemy was in fact inside himself. Finally, Joe lost the game, but won against himself. That means, Joe recognized what he was chasing for. He finally caught up with himself. So, Joe obtained the courage to reveal his true heart over Yee.
As we know, Andy Lau is the worldwide hero. He plays Joe, it makes the strong social influence. He often plays a perfect hero, but he is not such in this film. Joe is rather an outcast of the society. He discovers what he needs throughout the story. His drama surely reaches to the boys who run away from the reality.
Gigi Leung as Yee
The appearance of Gigi Leung somewhat resembles her in Sixty Million Dollar Man released in the same year. She puts the glasses and her fashion is conservative. She is like a modest country girl.
But, impossible to hide her beauty. The scene where Joe and Yee talks together about their future under the shower in the bathroom is romantic. The conclusion of the story is especially impressive.
Andy and Gigi are together in certain films. Gigi is really crazy in my favourite Fat Choi Spirit. If you don’t know yet, I strongly recommend to watch it.
David Wu is a popular Chinese American actor who often plays a returnee like Michael Wong and Edison Chen. He is in such as Return Engagement, Robotrix and 尋找周杰倫. I think that he is most known from Donnie Yen’s 洗黑錢.
His role exactly "David" is a professional rider, became a champion of Macau Grand Prix. He is the antagonist of Joe who makes runaway without the driver’s license. David shows the visible difference between a professional who knows the world and a runaway boy who knows only Hong Kong.
Though this is a fiction, the director shows the unbendable truth. Joe never wins the race against David. The audience will see that there is no escapism in the motorcycle world.
David is at the same time the most understanding friend of Joe. It’s only him who is realizing the true reason why Joe wants racing. David could be a good brother to the runaway boys in real.
Chin Ka-lok is well known as an expert of the action direction. He is working in for example Andy’s Firestorm. He is also a great actor. His character is emerging the darkness of a runaway boy. His desire to be a big man is much stronger than the friendship though he doesn’t have the ability. That calls the tragedy. His case enough happens in real.
Paul Chun is a very familiar actor for a fan of Andy and Stephen Chow. He often plays a slightly comical enemy in the 90s. He looks gentle, so it’s hard to determine him as a typical villain actor. This time, he plays the father of Andy! Furthermore, he breezily appears on a Harley Davidson at the final stage of the story. It’s a big surprise.
Elvis Tsui plays a classic bartender in a film. He seems a peaceful guy, but is hiding a sad story. He revealed his hidden past to Joe and it gave Joe a clue to be reborn. Too stereotype, but I feel it rather unique because I know his eccentric characters in other films such as Street Angels or Sixty Million Dollar Man. Anyway, Gigi Leung and Elvis Tsui are in Full Throttle and Sixty Million Dollar Man by coincidence.
Never give up
I watched this film in Japanese DVD that is based on Mandarin version. Three voices are available. The original Cantonese plus Mandarin and Japanese voice dubbed. I always prefer the original voice with the subtitles.
Japanese voice dubbed is relatively rare for a Hong Kong film except Golden Harvest‘s major titles. It means that "Full Throttle" was well promoted in Japanese cinema.
In Mandarin version, the closing credit song is 絕不放棄 that means "Never give up" included in Andy’s 11th Mandarin album 真永遠, this title can be translated as "Truely forever".
絕不放棄 is Mandarin version of 情深的一句 (A deep sentence) from Andy’s 16th Cantonese album 情未鳥 (Love is not a bird). So, the original version is ending with 情深的一句, lyrics by Andy Lau himself.
Both albums were released in 1995, the same year of the film. Unfortunately, I don’t have the album 情未鳥 though it was released also in Japan. Instead, I have 真永遠 that is not released in Japan. 絕不放棄 is my favourite song. So, this closing credit was much impressive to me.
There is just a black screen with the credits, but this song gave me a profound reflexion to the story. I would like to see this film again with 情深的一句 ending. This is the story of a man who never gave up his life and precious.
Love is not a Bird (Note on May 08 2017)
I found an ex-rental Japanese disc of 情未鳥 on Amazon Japan with just 1 USD. The shipping fee is 3 USD, so the price would be 4 USD in total. The item condition was not enough explained by the seller, however I must suppose it, it had been in rental.
I already found a regular used one in a shop with about 22 USD, but it was in awful condition. Andy’s albums are always expensive even if it’s too used. So, it’s a time to challenge a bet with minimum risk. In result, the disc is in very good condition except lacking the sash, but it was previewed. I can say that I won the bet!
Japanese version was released in 1996, one year later from the original release. Surprisingly, Japanese version includes a Japanese lyrics song at track 1. Andy sings in Japanese! It’s not just an imported version. It’s quite worth to have for a Japanese fan like me. Great!
The interlude song symbolizes the sentiment of Yee. The song in Mandarin version is my familiar "I’m willing" (Orchestral version) of Faye Wong from Mystery in 1994. Suddenly, I heard this song at the scene where Yee is taking care of Joe who is in rehabilitation of the motorcycle crash. That was a nice surprise.
But, Gigi Leung is popular also as a singer. I have two her mandarin albums. Why not her song? Because she was debuted as a singer from 1996. Simply, she didn’t sing in 1995.
Anyway, it’s quite true that "I’m willing" is beautiful and is a great hit song of Faye Wong’s early days. Almost people recognized this song on the spot in Hong Kong and Taiwan at that time.
The album "Mystery" was released also in Japan 1994. However, Faye Wong was known by the limited fans from Chungking Express. Almost Japanese know her from 1999 by Eyes on Me. Good or bad, Japan went the country of video game than cinema.