Director: Wong Jing
Screenplay: Wong Jing
Starring: Alan Tam, Andy Lau, Eric Tsang, Leung Kar-yan, May Lo Mei-Wei, Natalis Chan, Jackson Liu, Chui Sau-Lai
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 94 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
88 Films and Eureka seem to be on a Wong Jing bender at the minute, releasing a slew of his films on Blu-ray this year, with a few more to come in early 2024. Whilst I used to roll my eyes on seeing his name in the credits of a Hong Kong movie, I’ve found that I’ve acquired a taste for his wacky brand of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink nonsense over the years. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating the handful of titles I’ve yet to review from his crowd-pleasing oeuvre.
The latest Wong Jing joint to land on my doormat is Hard Boiled 2: The Last Blood (a.k.a. Ging tin 12 siu see or 12 Hours of Terror).
I can hear you all double-taking at that title. You would be right to question it too, as The Last Blood (which is how I’m going to refer to the film from now on) came out around a year before John Woo’s action masterpiece. Indeed, Wong Jing’s film has nothing to do with it at all. The Hard Boiled 2 moniker was, in fact, only used in the UK when it was released on VHS by Eastern Heroes Video. Supposedly, the label manager, Ricky Baker, contacted John Woo directly and was given permission to use the title, but that sounds unlikely.
88 Films have decided to keep this misleading title on their new Blu-ray release of The Last Blood for whatever reason and I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release ever since they teased it.
The film is set entirely in Singapore during the buildup to the 25th Singapore National Day. The story centres around the arrival of the Daka Lama (Law Shu-kei – obviously a stand-in for the Dalai Lama) in the country. A cell of the Japanese Red Army (JRA), under the leadership of their Chinese commander, Kama Kura (Chin Ho), have threatened to kill the religious figure and Interpol are trying their best to prevent this from happening.
The JRA manage to get past security and shoot the Daka Lama though. During the carnage, May (May Lo), the girlfriend of Big B (Andy Lau), a Hong Kong triad member on holiday in Singapore, is also shot. Thankfully, both the Daka Lama and May survive, but they both need a blood transfusion to live much longer. Unfortunately, both of them have the same extremely rare blood type and only three people in the whole of Singapore share it.
Whilst Interpol attempt to track down the potential donors, Big B takes matters into his own hands, worrying that the authorities will use the blood to save the Daka Lama and not his wife. When the JRA keep reaching the donors before them though, Big B and the leading Interpol agents Lui Tai (Alan Tam) and Stone (Leung Ka-Yan, a.k.a. Bryan Leung) are forced to work together.
The final remaining donor (i.e. ‘the last blood’) ends up being Fatty (Eric Tsang), a cheeky street hawker. Whilst the JRA, Interpol and Big B fight over him, Fatty does his best to keep out of trouble but fails miserably.
Though still filled with wild tonal shifts, a few plot quirks (the blood type contrivance is a bit much) and dashes of toilet humour, The Last Blood is a relatively restrained film for Wong Jing. Saying that, these elements are all part of the charm for me and I enjoyed the hell out of the film because of them. With a more focused approach to its storytelling though, The Last Blood is more approachable than many of Jing’s wilder efforts.
Those sold on the film by its Hard Boiled 2 label might be a little disappointed though, as it’s quite a different beast, with a greater emphasis on comedy and none of the grace of Woo’s filmmaking. However, whilst nobody’s going to be calling the action in The Last Blood “balletic”, it’s still pretty damned impressive. The legendary action director Blackie Shou-Liang Ko was in charge of that department and he delivers some wonderfully over-the-top and explosive sequences. Standing out is a wild chase between our heroes and a veritable swarm of bad guys on motorbikes.
The comedy’s not bad either and I found myself chuckling along in places. Eric Tsang can be a little grating sometimes but, like Wong Jing, he’s relatively restrained here. Though he does some of his usual comedy shtick, his character is given some weightier moments and he does a good job of them.
So long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for then, there’s a lot of fun to be had with The Last Blood. Fast-paced, action-packed and not taking itself too seriously, it’s a fun, blood-splattered ride.
Hard Boiled 2: The Last Blood is out now on region A & B Blu-Ray, released by 88 Films (order it here). The transfer is a little soft and a touch faded but looks pleasingly natural and relatively clean, other than some barely noticeable flecks here and there. I’ve used screengrabs throughout this review to give you an idea of how it looks.
You get a choice of the original Cantonese mono or an English mono dub. I opted for the former and had no issues.
– Double Walled Matt Finish O-Ring featuring new artwork by Sean Longmore
– Double-sided foldout poster
– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
– 2.0 Cantonese Mono with English Subtitles and Optional SDH
– 2.0 English Mono
– Audio Commentary with Hong Kong Film Experts Frank Djeng and John Charles
– English Trailer
– Hong Kong Trailer
– Stills Gallery
– Reversible cover with new design by Sean Longmore and original Hong Kong Art
Frank Djeng is as reliable as ever in his commentary. Though unlisted on the website, he’s joined by John Charles and the pair bounce off each other nicely in quite a light-hearted track. An added bonus here is Djeng repeatedly showing he can mimic Eric Tsang’s voice!
As ever, the packaging is attractively designed and I like 88 Films’ new thinner cases, saving space on my overly stuffed shelves. I rarely do anything with the posters you get with the limited editions but this one looks good.
Overall, it’s not one of 88 Films’ more stacked releases but the commentary is of good value and I enjoyed the film a great deal so it’s an easy recommendation.