Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Beyond Redemption: Vancouver Undercover

Vancouver is a clean, polite city, but it will still kill you dead enough if you are not careful. Careful went out the window for Billy Tong when he accepted an undercover assignment infiltrating “Big Brother” Yuen Chung’s gang. He is about to get caught up in a nasty rivalry, because that is how the triads roll in Bruce Fontaine’s Beyond Redemption (trailer here), which releases today on DVD and BluRay, from Well Go USA.

Fortunately for Tong, Big Brother Yuan takes a bit of a shine to him, but his trusted lieutenants Jimmy and Bosco most definitely do not. Nevertheless, he will be right there in the thick of it when Yuan’s men kidnap Tiffany Long, the innocently oblivious daughter of his rival Xi Long. Evidently, Long has some kind of Macguffin he is about to sell Amir Shahlavi’s Middle Eastern organization, but Yuan wants it for his own buyer instead. They will have some key inside help from Xi Long’s trophy wife Lucinda, who is actually Yuan’s lover.

Obviously, Tong will try to keep Tiffany Long safe, without blowing his cover or getting killed himself. To further raise the stakes, he just learned his none-too patient wife is super-pregnant. The good news is he can fight.

Redemption is a film made by a former stuntman (and western “Gweilo” supporting player in Hong Kong cinema), starring working stuntmen that is likely to earn them a heck of a lot more stuntman offers. As Tong, Brian Ho has decent screen presence and massive action chops. Don Lew throws down and chews the scenery with authority as Yuan. However, if anyone breaks out as a result of Redemption, it will probably be Vicki Huang for her awesomely catty femme fatale portrayal of Mrs. Long. On the other hand, Peter Chao could become a cult fave for his Michael Wong-worthy over-the-top-and-gone turn as the skimming drug trafficker Wen Lo.

There is something pleasantly grungy about Redemption that is guaranteed to wear well. Frankly, this is the sort of film home video was invented for. It will probably not win any major awards (unless it is for its stunt work and action choreography), but if it finds its way into your library, you will watch far more often than Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa, A Beautiful Mind, Spotlight, or Heaven forbid, Crash. Recommended as meat-and-potatoes for martial arts fans, Beyond Redemption is now available for home viewing, from Well Go USA.