Fatal Termination (Review)
aka Chi se da feng bao
Directed by Andrew Kam
This movie has the scene. What scene? If you’ve seen Fatal Termination, you know what scene I am talking about. If you haven’t, just look at the screencaps littering this review, or watch the movie clip. We have a young girl dangled out of a car window at high speeds. No special effects, no blue screens, no CGI, it’s 100% real. That scene. What would normally just be a random Hong Kong action film with a slight Girls with Guns vibe (solely because of Moon Lee, who doesn’t do much fighting until that scene) instead becomes a memorable experience just for the shock of wondering if they could do that. They could, they did, and now we can enjoy! So enjoy! Or I’ll dangle your daughter out a window like I’m Michael Jackson. So read on…
It’s October 12, 1989, as the helpful graphic tells us. There is an arms deal between “Arabic” terrorists (white guys in shoe polish and towels) and a Chinese guy, and the terrorists want “softball” as well. This panics the arms dealer. Why? We will never know, because the movie will never mention “softball” again.
It’s now October 18, 1989. Time flies when you’re having fun. Officer Wai meets Ko Mok-Fu, who introduces the Captain of the Leftist Muslim Civilian Army. They want Officer Wai to confiscate weapons belonging to the Rightist Muslim Civilian Army (If the People’s Front of Judea shows up, I’m out of here…) so they can be sold to the Leftist guys. Officer Wai agrees for $3 million.
New people intro time, as we meet John, his wife Moon, and their young daughter Yan Yan for a brief second. Then we get an intro to Jimmy Li, unshaven smoker and cop. His new partner is Mr. Lau, and they are assigned to locate Terrorist Dan who is on the flight and I guess a member of the Rightist Muslim Civilian Army. Jimmy goes to talk to Officer Wai at the airport, but Officer Wai refuses to help Jimmy detain Dan, because Jimmy doesn’t have a warrant. Somehow Jimmy has Dan arrested anyway (the other scene must have just been to establish that Jimmy and Wai hate each other), and Jimmy and Mr. Lau take him to their car, only to have Terrorist Dan escape and start a violent firefight in a parking garage that is also filled with security guards armed with machine guns. Needless to say, a vast number of people get Swiss cheesed, but as to who many of these people are or what the heck is actually going on I’m not sure. This is the “violence first, cohesive plot second” formula that makes Hong Kong action films exciting but weird. Dan manages to kill dozens of people before even more cops (including John and Moon) show up and wound him. Jimmy still wants him taken alive, but Dan is gunned down as he’s going all jihad on this parking lot and should have been killed earlier.
Jimmy opens up the boxes Dan had shipped but they are filled with nothing but pandas. Stuffed pandas, not real ones. Jimmy also sees they have today’s newspaper in them, meaning someone opened them today as the package has been on a plane for over a day. Jimmy beats up some customs guards before he’s caught by them, and gets yelled at by the Chief back at HQ. The Chief demands Jimmy and Mr. Lau work together, which he did earlier so I guess he’s going all Alzheimer’s on them. Both cops go to confront Officer Wai, who is angry at Jimmy and says “for the sake of our reputation, I must sue you of frame!” Damn, Jimmy’s going to lose all his frames! How will he display his pictures? Mr. Lau soothes things over, and then Officer Wai brings in one of his men Officer Miu, who he blames for the missing weapons and suspends.
Officer Miu is devastated about being framed, because he’s as straight-laced as they come. He goes to visit his sister and brother-in-law, who just happen to be Moon and John, to tell John of his suspension, frame up, and how Political Division is out to get him. Darn Political Division, they’re so divisively political and hate random security guys! Jimmy the cop is waiting outside John and Moon’s home because he’s following Miu to try to make him crack. Officer Wai is upset over the police getting so close to him, so he demands $10 million more from Ko before giving over the weapons. Ko is not happy, but must do it. Officer Miu finds evidence in a locker against two other custom officers and Officer Wai, but he’s spotted by one of the agents (Officer Small Devil, played by Cheung Chi-Tak.) Small Devil tells Wai, who tells Ko, and Ko waits at Miu’s house, then tosses Miu off a building. Miu lands on the car that John and Moon pulled up in seconds earlier, so John pulls Miu off, tears off the top of his car, and chases after Ko with a car with no roof, windows, or any frame above the doors. John also recognizes Ko because John killed Ko’s brother! It’s so many coincidences it can only be a bad action film! After the driving gun battle, John shoots Ko’s driver, and Ko’s car does a two-for-one car chase cliché: crashes through a pile of fruit boxes off of a pier! That’s Hong Kong efficiency!
Officer Wai makes an offer to the OTHER Muslim army, for $20 million they can have the weapons instead of Ko. Which army is this, Leftist, Rightist, or Centrist? Who knows? The other custom agent who helped Wai is named Billy, who was mentored by Miu and is now regretting helping Wai. Only Wai has video of Billy taking the weapons out, so Billy is screwed. At Miu’s funeral, Billy and Officer Wai show up. Jimmy and Mr. Lau now suspect the John and Moon, and arrive at funeral where they and Jimmy and Moon get into a fight, until Billy yells at all of them, but he won’t reveal what is going on as he’s still being blackmailed by Wai.
Mr. Lau is killed afterwards by some who Jimmy throws out a window. I’m not sure who it was who killed Mr. Lau because it was so dark, so will never know. May you find all the pipe tobacco you need in sidekick heaven, Mr. Lau. Wai tells Ko the guns were stolen by Billy and John so Ko will kill them and he’ll be free to sell them to the Random Directionist Muslim People’s Army. Billy finally talks to John after he follows him all day. They go to harass Small Devil, and force him to talk by dangling off a bridge. I love dangling of suspects in films! I just wish they’d drop one sometime.
Moon drops Yan Yan off at ballet practice, and the movie suddenly goes from average to WTF in 60 seconds! Here it comes:
Yan Yan is grabbed by the top of her hair by a crazy white wrestler guy in a car, and the car drives off with her dangling outside the window. Moon jumps on the roof as the car speeds off, flying down the streets at fast speeds with the small child hanging outside the window by her hair. And that’s it. 100% real. And the girl is terrified, because, why wouldn’t she? I bet to this day she can’t get near a WWE wrestler without her hair hurting.
There are three guys in the car, Moon punches through the windshield and grabs the driver, but a second guy climbs through the smashed windshield to fight her on the hood of the speeding car (while the wrestler guy in back continues to dangle the daughter) I’m impressed that a Hong Kong action movie from 1990 is far more stunt-worthy than a CGI-laden Matrix sequel. The guy who climbed onto the hood is kicked off the car, then Moon yanks the driver out of the car(!!!) and the crazy wrestler guy in the back realizes no one is driving so he grabs the parking break and yanks the car stopped (throwing everyone off the hood.) He gets out still clutching the daughter and we cut away.
The movie goes back to normal as Small Devil shows John and Billy where the guns are, but he won’t help them bring down Wai, runs away, and falls onto a crane hook and dies. Okay, maybe it’s not entirely back to normal. Moon and her daughter are brought before Ko, and Moon and Ko trade blows as Ko tells her the whole family must die. Moon puts up a pretty good fight but can’t win against Ko and multiple goons. John is called to be lured in.
John arrives at the hideout to find his daughter dangled from the roof, his wife dangled from a different part of the roof, and he is forced to pick one to save. He begins cutting his daughter’s rope, all while fighting the wrestler guy, whom he impales, but his daughter falls regardless. She’s saved by Billy, and John gets Moon down, but Ko captures them and ties everyone up, planting bombs on them. Ko demands to know where the weapons are, but the family won’t talk, as they know they will be killed anyway. Billy breaks free, runs toward Ko but is knocked over the side of the building, where he explodes! Then Ko shoots Yan Yan. Child murder! After all they went through to keep the kid from dying in the car incident, she just gets capped. How shocking! Ko escapes, and Yan Yan is really, truly dead.
Later, John and Moon wait for Wai in the now empty weapons cache, where they beat the snot out of him. Then they will use him to lure out Ko. The two get heavily armed, and take Wai out into the desert to meet Ko in what looks like a direct rip from Lethal Weapon. Jimmy also grabs a big gun and gets in a police helicopter to fly out to the desert because he’s finally realized Ko and Wai should be taken out. Ko has a sniper rifle with him, and before meeting Wai snoops around, spotting John and Moon hiding. He doesn’t kill them like anyone normal would do, and then the Muslim guys show up demanding the weapons, and Ko realizes that Wai stole from him, and starts opening fire on everyone! Mass death as Muslims get killed, main characters shoot at each other, and Moon is hit in the leg as John chucks grenades like baseballs at Ko (who is driving around in a car shooting at everyone.) Despite it being in the middle of a barren desert John somehow manages to blow up all sorts of random stuff while completely missing Ko. Jimmy has now arrived in the helicopter and is now being shot at by both Wai and Ko. Another police helicopter is there to serve as an eventual casualty.
The gun battle becomes mobile as everyone on the ground gets in a car (John and Moon sharing one) and Wai and Ko spend most of the time trying to kill each other. Not that smart, as eventually John and Moon jump in and blast Ko, causing his car to fly off a cliff (and it explodes….but at the top of the cliff, so a flaming car goes flying down the cliff. Excellent! Stuff like that makes movies great.) Ko isn’t dead (!!) because why would you be dead after your car explodes and falls off a cliff? He shoots John in the back, so Moon guns him down.
Wai goes all Grand Theft Auto and blows up a police helicopter (not the one Jimmy is in) and Jimmy riddles him with bullets…yet he also isn’t dead, and Jimmy arrests him instead of killing him (That’s the biggest shock of all!) Jimmy shakes John’s hand to show he was wrong, and the chopper flies back to base as saxophone music plays. (Desert gunfights, helicopter, and saxophone music? Lethal Weapon gets copied again!) I’m sure Jimmy’s chief will think this a job well done. John and Moon seemed less injured than being shot would have you believe, probably their superior Hong Kong Action Film Healing Factor making a showing (also explaining why Wai can take so many bullets only to be arrested.)
What stands Fatal Termination out from the pack of 1990’s Hong Kong action is the scenes with the girl dangling from the car. This movie will be remembered years from now entirely for that scene, as people will continue to discover it with mouth agape. I still can’t believe it happened. With many of the HK action films blurring together, it is nice to see one that refuses to just sit back and become indistinct. The rest of the film is just an average entertaining action flick, with a slightly complex gun smuggling plot and random Arabs. A few less plot twists would have made the film more tight. But it still makes the recommended watch list!
Rated 6/10 (Optimus Prime!, Well hung, That’s what I like to see in a movie!, Ka-boom!, Double decker, He has a mouthful)
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