Fast, fierce and gleefully tasteless, “Full Contact” is a Hong Kong actioner sure to capitalize in Asian markets here and abroad. Lacking the transcendent style of star Chow Yun-Fat’s John Woo-directed vehicles, it compensates with a brutality that may alienate some crossover markets intrigued by the cult allure of other recent Hong Kong features.
But the violence is pulse-quickening at the least. It starts with a wicked robbery sequence in which bad guy Judge stabs a young Thai female clerk for no reason beyond satisfying his passing sadistic urge.
Back in Bangkok, club bouncer Jeff (Chow) incites underworld anger by rescuing his loan shark-indebted pal Sam from the clutches of thugs. Sam suggests hooking up with gay cousin Judge and his crew to procure needed international getaway money.
Trouble is, Judge and his cronies are even more morally bankrupt than the loan shark’s minions. His companions soon slaughtered, Sam must betray his own loyalties to stay alive.
Left for dead, invincible Jeff rouses himself to plot revenge against all. He alarms the bad guys and confuses erstwhile g.f. Mona (who’s taken up with Sam after Jeff’s “demise”) with phantom-like appearances before a climactic disco shootout.
“Full Contact” is formula Hong Kong gangster stuff. Which is to say it’s basically one improbable but wildly energetic climax after another, with familiar minor refrains of sentimentality (Jeff takes responsibility for a child bystander fire-scarred by the villains) and quasi-mysticism. The results may be crass, but they sure aren’t dull. More disturbing than the film’s eager bloodshedding is its dicey sketching of the principal villainous trio. They’re a bizarre combo — hulking, mean-spirited Rambo-types; his extremely sluttish girlfriend, Virgin; and their mastermind, the foppish, heartless Judge.
When not fondling some younger comfort-boy, the Judge is making sarcastic goo-goo eyes at the hero, smirking, “Your eyes are so charming and attractive!””Well! Masturbate in Hell!” is one of Jeff’s comebacks. Meanwhile, Virgin tries to get intimate with every man in sight. “Check if there’s a hole in my underpants,” she suggests to Jeff. “No, I saw a vomiting crab there,” Jeff replies.
Good taste is not the prevailing virtue of “Full Contact”; pic hits the gutter at a sprint. Tech aspects are tops; acting turns make the most of the script’s crass humor.