City of Darkness (1999)

Rating: B

Dir: Wan-Chang Lin, Tin Hung Yiu
Star: Zhuo Hsiao Hu, Ngai Sing, Chen Zi Cheung, Donnie Yen

Donnie’s role in City of Darkness was shot over about only four days, yet is pivotal, and he’s the one who gets to battle head villain Ngai Sing at the end. That’s a rare one-on-one battle since, nicely, the villains are usually so tough it takes multiple good guys to bring them down, which makes them all the more impressive. The plot concerns three teenagers (as well as a particularly annoying and superfluous brat), each holding a piece of jade which combine to form the key to treasure. This is why Ngai is after them, and Donnie is (sigh…) a loose-cannon policeman – he resigns during the movie – who helps out the kids.

The low budget is painfully obvious, and they could have done with more variety in the sound effects for the fights – there’s about two. Still, it makes up for these deficiencies with a lot of action, good characters, especially baddies such as Billy Chow, and imaginative touches including their use of a hypnosis-controlled policeman to work from the inside. The ending is terrifically disappointing, which is a particular shame, since up until then, the film has been a bit of a gem, somewhere between The Goonies and Indiana Jones.