Sunday, August 28, 2011

'Four Robbers' is a worth stealing
(but only worth paying for if its cheap)

Four Robbers (1987)
Starring: Charlie Cho, Feng Ku, and Hon Shek
Director: Gam Loi Sung
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Four ruthless criminals from the Chinese mainland make it big in Hong Kong by violently robbing organized crime figures. They are soon find themselves in a maze of deceit and betrayal, as both the underworld and the law hunt them.

"Four Robbers" has the makings of a decent low-budget action film with several nicely staged gun battles. However, it is done in by the director's seeming inability to know when to end a scene; there are very few in the film that don't so much end as drag to painful conclusions. The plot is also somewhat over-complicated with one major development being completely nonsensical and the very definition of "doing something the hard way".

There are also several elements give rise to unintended comedy, first and foremost of these being the humorless, sanctimonious leader of the four robbers who frequently prattles on about responsibility, honor and paying his own debts while planning robberies and murders. This character would be utterly laughable if not for the fact that the actor who plays him is the only performer in the film who displays any real screen presence and for the way that he follows through on his prattle when he has to rescue his fellow robbers from the Thai police. (Even if that rescue becomes unintentionally funny as well.)

And then there's the dubbing. It's actually rather well done as far as the lines matching the action and making some degree of sense, but many of the voices are so goofy that one has to wonder what the director of the voice actors must have been thinking. (My guess is, "let's cover the fact that we've got three male actors and one woman doing voices for 10-15 recurring characters." The voices for the Thai police officers are especially hilarious.)

"Four Robbers" may be one of hundreds of mediocre Hong Kong action films, and as such, it's one you can probably safely ignore. It doesn't seem to be available on DVD anywhere but in the "Martial Arts 50 Movie Pack", and when taken as part of that package, it's inoffensive filler. In fact, for the right buyer, it might even be a plus, as it's got just the right mix of flaws, unintended comedy, and silly voice acting to make it a good candidate for a Bad Movie Night.

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