Film review: Throw Down (12)
- Credit: Archant
What sounds like the title of an 80s Sylvester Stallone film a beautifully shot, carefree Hong Kong action comedy that’s like a joy filled Fight Club
Directed by Johnnie To. 2004.
Starring Aaron Kwok, Louis Koo, Cherrie Ying, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Cheung Siu-fai and Lo Hoi-pang.
Released on Blu-ray/ DVD by Eureka as part of their Masters Of Cinema series.
Running time: 95 mins.
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Throw Down sounds like the title of an 80s Sylvester Stallone film; he’s a cop on the edge chasing a serial killer; an arm-wrestling truck driver trying to win back the affections of a 12-year-old daughter.
It’s not the name you’d expect for a tribute to Akira Kurosawa.
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But then you wouldn’t expect such a homage to be a beautifully shot, carefree Hong Kong action comedy set in the Judo underground.
Throw Down is like a joy-filled, childlike Fight Club. Judo champion Tony (Kwok) bounds around Hong Kong asking people for fights. There’s not an ounce of malice in him; he just loves doing judo.
While westerners have fixated on Wong Kar wai (In the Mood for Love,) and John Woo (Face/Off), two directors who are never knowingly underwrought, Johnnie To (pronounced Toe) has perfected a style that is superficial and throw away, yet has enormous humanity and depth.
There are plenty of fights, and not once are we asked to care who wins. In the Stallone Throw Down, our emotions would be crudely manoeuvred, ready for release at the climactic triumph. Here everything is part of life and there are no heroes or villains. Such a style is hard to achieve but To nails it.