Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind ★★★★½

The DVD I rented looked to be a DVD-R of a VHS recording off of German television, so I just watched it on youtube instead, in a version that mixes together VHS with a high quality digital remaster to fill in all the parts that were censored out of this movie's various versions. The samizdat quality of the enterprise fits well with the punky, nihilistic tone of the film itself, perhaps the ultimate Hong Kong expression of the exploitation 70s, from the Wild Bunch through Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Italian giallo cinema. Local flavor comes in the form of the warrens of the HK slums (is it the Kowloon Walled City?), populated by gangsters, prostitutes and animal murderers, the perils and parallels of international finance and crime, and the relentless, psychotic and heavily armed swarm of muscle-bound white men who care very little for local Asian lives.

Once Upon a Time in China is Tsui Hark's masterpiece: mature, expansive and well-smoothed. This is Tsui with all his edges sharp, spiking off in every direction.

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