Bomb-Shell, The
Hong Kong 1981
Directed by Hoh Hong Ming.


In Hong Kong movies, the cross-eyed, buck-toothed moron has only two options -- comedic relief or maniacal remourseless killer. This time its the latter, and ever since his cross-eyed girlfriend died he just watches TV and makes bombs. Admittedly, I was expecting a beautiful woman to be the star attraction of a film called "The Bomb-Shell", but we're really talking actual bombs here, especially one planted for no apparent reason in the Women's bathroom at Ocean Terminal Shopping Center, that puts retired officer Tsui (Norman Chu)'s wife in a coma and injures his son.

The cops are closing in on the triads, and with the help of undercover agent Chung, they round up a large group during a Triad initiation ceremony. But they miss Uncle Cheuk and his two sons -- Sam, the cross-eyed moron already mentioned, and Shing (action choreographer Wilson Tong), a vicious killer just back from Japan, who has a special huge knife and an iron chest that knives bounce right off without leaving a mark.

The killer brother tracks down the undercover cop, while the crazy brother uses firecrackers to blow up various actors that he doesn't like. Meanwhile, Tsui hangs out with his son, playing Rubik's Cube while his wife makes breakfast. These scenes go on at length with no discernable point, so it is something of a relief when his family blows up and he has to do something. Inevitably, he crosses paths with the killer and the crazy and has to bring them down.

Suberb action choreography throughout by Wilson Tong and Philip Ko makes an otherwise rather poorly paced and silly film worth watching, at least for fans of 80's action cinema. Of special note is a tiny cameo by Shing Fui-On, as young as I've ever seen him, who takes a hostage to keep the cops at bay but takes a bullet to the head for his troubles.

What a mess! Scenes like the Shing Fui-On cameo appear for no reason, with no lead up, and end just as quickly. The cops are after the triads, but what has that got to do with the Ocean Terminal bomb? Why did Norman Chu's character resign? It is never explained. His friend (Ga Lun), still on the force, seems like an unnecessary extra, as does the undercover cop. You know a movie has completely gone off the rails when it spends ten minutes with crazy Sam watching a weird commercial about a rollerskating girl and an exploding cake, out of which emerges a large chef flailing two loaves of bread; a commercial which then prompts Sam to take revenge on the actor playing the baker, who is also cross-eyed. Even I was cross-eyed by the end.

And what an end! Was this just part one? Is there a sequel? Not sure, but it seems over, right when a cop bursts in and shouts, "Sir, there's a bomb over at New World Center!" Who planted it? When? What the hell have we just been watching? Not sure, but the credits roll over a sunny shot of the building (presumably, about to explode).

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on January 31, 2006.


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