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Blu-Ray Review: 88 Films’ Taxi Hunter (88 Asia Collection) 

Taxi Hunter

Anthony Wong goes to war with the Taxi Drivers of Hong Kong in Herman Yu’s Taxi Hunter.  New to 88 Films on Blu-Ray.  

The Film 

Category III Hong Kong Films are a wild mashup of movies.  Think of them as a combination of NC-17, unrated, DTV, Grindhouse, and Indie all rolled into one.  For more about this very interesting “classification,” I’d suggest you just look it up on places like City on Fire or just Google it.  I only preface it for those that are not familiar and give them some quick context as I begin to discuss the Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro of CAT III films – 

Herman Yau and Anthony Wong. 

Make no mistake this duo in the 90s set HK cinema ablaze with their punk rock deep dive into CAT III that netted them not just fame (or infamy) but creditability, awards, and box office success.  Of the five films they collaborated on, Taxi Driver feels like the most accessible of the lot.  The concept of a salaryman Kin (Wong) who slowly loses everything because of the horrendous Taxi Drivers he’s dealt with exacting his own brand of justice – is something intrinsically relatable to audiences.  Like Taxi DriverDeath WishFalling Down, or even The Punisher there is an empathetic portrait of someone who’s taken up arms against those that’ve done them wrong.  Like those – the smartest of the vigilante genre – there is a moral compass at play here and shows that violence isn’t the answer.  

Though Taxi Hunter is an action film first and an expertly staged and executed one.  Anthony Wong is a fascinating and compelling lead as Kin is forced into violence.  There’s a light and goodness to the way that Wong portrays him and slowly descending into the pain of vengeance.  Constantly awkward Taxi Hunter is at its most thrilling and engrossing as he clumsily executes these drivers for their crimes (which range from rape to assault, and other assorted crimes). 

Though like many HK Action films, there is rumor enough for not just pathos, thrills, and anger but also comedy and moments of brevity.  Yau even manages a cheeky homage to Taxi Driver in the film just to ensure that everyone knows the debt that’s owed (but not really) to the Scorsese Classic.  Though the most fascinating aspect is how Taxi Hunter ends the salary man’s descent into violence and grief.  One that again both homages Taxi Driver but is entirely different.  Any film that does that kind of high-wire act demands to be seen by any creditable film fan. 

The Transfer

The film’s transfer is a definite upgrade from previous editions.  The film appears to be a newer source or transfer from prior editions.  The image is solid with upticks in quality, sharpness, color, and definition in black levels.  The Blu-ray looks more wholly like the film and the detail that they were able to get out of the image is impressive.  Bravo to 88 Films for their continued care and considered time taken to produce the best possible image for their home video releases.    

The Extras

They include the following; 

  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng
  • Hunting For Words – An Interview with Scriptwriter and Producer Tony Leung Hung-Wah
  • How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? – An Interview with Action Director James Ha
  • Falling Down in Hong Kong – An Interview with star Anthony Wong
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Stills Gallery

The all-new Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng begins with their bonafides before he quickly begins.  Some of the details include the multiple titles the film goes under; the box office results of the film; a larger discussion of the production companies involved with the film; the origins of the film; its close inspiration to Taxi Driver; this is feels more like a Category II not a III film; a larger discussion of the Category rating systems in Hong Kong; the work of Herman Yau and Anthony Wong – a larger discussion of the 5 films that they made; a discussion about Insurance Sales men like the one that Wong portrays – and how cutthroat it is; his own personal account of a bad taxi driver; the career and personal history of Anthony Wong – a larger discussion of him as an artist and life outside of film; a discussion about the work here and other films of director Herman Yau; the sex workers in Hong Kong at the time and how its evolved in Hong Kong; the work and career of cinematographer Puccini Yu; a larger discussion about the action scenes and the action choreographers and action directors (some who were producers) that worked to accomplish them; a larger discussion of who does and doesn’t dub their own voices in the film; discussion throughout the commentary track about the various actors and their work here and throughout their career – keep your notes app open you’ll want to write some of the films down; and much more.  Djeng delivers another informational and entertaining commentary track.  

Hunting For Words – An Interview with Scriptwriter and Producer Tony Leung Hung-Wah (28:45) – this all-new interview begins with the screenwriter discussing how began his career as a child actor and eventually became a Screenwriter/Producer.  Some of the details include how he came to be involved with the project; how this was released in the same year as The Untold Story (another Yau/Wong collaboration) – and the respective journeys during their release and award season; the reasons why Yau and he have not worked again; the real-life issues in Hong Kong at the time with “bad” Taxi Drivers; the development of the script; the casting of the film; the budget and release/box office; and much more.  In Cantonese with English Subtitles.  

How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? – An Interview with Action Director James Ha (27:06) – this all-new interview begins with the director discussing how he got involved with the project.  Some of the other details include his work with Yau and Wong on other projects; the similarities to Taxi Driver and Falling Down; his views on the bad taxi drivers of the 90s in Hong Kong – including his own personal experience with it; details from shooting the opening action scene – which leads to a larger discussion about working with Yu Rongguang; and much more. In Cantonese with English Subtitles.  

Falling Down in Hong Kong – An Interview with star Anthony Wong (17:57) – this all-new interview with the star begins with how he became an actor, something he did not think he would ever become.  Some of the details include how he became attached to Taxi Hunter; a discussion of how he developed and created the character – a larger discussion of how he approaches the character; the homage to DeNiro in Taxi Driver; how he and Yau worked together on the film; and much more. 

Theatrical Trailer (3:51) 

Stills Gallery – consists of 24 production stills that can be navigated by using your remote’s next and back chapter stop buttons.  

The Final Thought 

88 Films brings us another amazing piece of HK Cinema in Taxi Hunter to Blu-ray filled with great picture, sound, and special features.  Highest possible recommendations! 

88 Films’ Blu-Ray edition of Taxi Hunter is out August 29th

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