Today I watched Corey Yuen’s Righting Wrongs (1986)
Speaking of action films with confused morals, let’s talk about Corey Yuen again. During the Eighties the classic style of historical kung fu films were on the way out and replacing them was a variety of police driven actioners. Now I have spoken before about the trickiness of morality in an action film that centers on police as protagonists, since violence is rather brutal and police brutality is pretty terrible. Yuen seems to represent an oppositional viewpoint as both this film and Yes, Madam express an anti-justice system, pro-murder argument. The motive behind which is actually semi-understandable as justice systems always have loopholes and it is always the rich and powerful slipping through them, but I don’t think murder is the answer personally. But I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s get back to this after I tell you what this film is actually about.
It is about a Hong Kong prosecutor named Hsia Ling-Cheng who runs things by the books and wants to put the bad people away for good. But after his mentor is gunned down on the steps of a law building and key witnesses and their entire families are all killed, he decides to go into vigilantism. Enter Senior Inspector Cindy Si, played by a returning Cynthia Rothrock, who has to investigate all the violence Ling-Cheng is causing. However there is a greater criminal mastermind at work and if Ling-Cheng is going to stop him he is going to need Cindy’s help.
Another bizarre element of Yuen’s police films is the overabundance of comedy, most likely heavily inspired by the meteoric rise of Jackie Chan. This leads me to an alternative interpretation of Yuen’s presentation of police action morality, what if when he saw Dirty Harry he just laughed his ass off the whole time? And thus what if this is just a parody of the overblown extremity of western cop films? I somehow doubt this is interpretation was the director’s intention, but it is an amusing and in some ways redeeming way to view the film.
It also maintains it’s entertainment value with incredible action and stunt work and a great pair of leads. Yuen Biao and Cynthia Rothrock are both great in this film and have really solid chemistry between the two of them, despite the absurd dialogue and language barrier (Rothrock delivered her lines in English and was dubbed for Mandarin and Cantonese speaking audiences.) It also has a lot of guts in terms of what the villain gets away with and how brutal he can be, which you don’t get much of in modern film. So it may be morally confusing and perhaps even quite offensive, this is still quite an interesting film in terms of what it delivers and for that is certainly worth seeking out. 3/5