Hong Kong, 1967
Kong Ngee Company. PROD: He Jianye. DIR/SCR: Patrick Lung Kong. CINE: Chen Kan. CAST: Patrick Tse Yin, Shek Kin, Chan Tsai-chung, Do Ping, Hui Ying-ying.
Only recently being rediscovered, this tough-as-nails, black-and-white crime thriller from 1967 has had an enormous and lasting influence: it served as the basis for John Woo's 1986 bullet-ballet opus A Better Tomorrow, which made "heroic bloodshed" the new face of Hong Kong action cinema. Patrick Tse Yin stars as the eponymous ex-con Lee Cheuk-hung, who is released from prison after 15 years to discover his fiancée has become the mistress of powerful triad boss One-Eyed Jack (Shek Kin, best known in the West as the villain in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon), who tries to recruit Lee into his gang; determined to stay on the straight and narrow, Lee refuses. But when the vengeful Jack starts putting the pressure on, the former foot soldier is forced to once again show that he has the "true colors of a hero" (as per the film's original title). Both a groundbreaking action melodrama (featuring fight choreography from legendary martial arts master Lau Kar-leung's brother Lau Kar-wing) and a forceful, socially conscious portrait of the plight of the marginalized in a rapidly modernizing Hong Kong, The Story of a Discharged Prisoner is "[both] a damning critique [and] a call for hope...[this] is filmmaking at its sharpest and most masterful" (South China Morning Post).
35mm, b/w, in Cantonese with English subtitles, 119 min.
Preceded by: WONG FEI-HUNG: THE WHIP THAT SMACKS THE CANDLE
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