Written by: Carroll Jenkins on February 26th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1993
Director: Herman Yau
Cast: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Athena Chu, Man Tat Ng, Fung Woo, Rongguang Yu
DVD Released: February 23rd, 2010
Approximate Running Time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese
DVD Release: Eastern Star / Discotek
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A mild mannered insurance agent is on the brink of promotion and of becoming a proud father. When his dear wife is killed in an incident with a taxi driver; he decides that bad taxi drivers must die.
Though the title is derived from Taxi Driver and it contains a reworking of DeNiro’s “You looking at Me?” scene, this is actually an alternate version of Death Wish and a dark and gritty film with lots of action and violence. Many Category III films tend to mix slapstick with the gore and mayhem (The Untold Story, Underground Banker) or present situations and resulting atrocities so over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek that the result is pitch black comedy (Ebola Syndrome). Taxi Hunter was a Category II [IIB] release and doesn’t contain the polarized extremes, resulting in a more refined product that is both cohesive and coherent.
Anthony Wong must have starred in more extreme gore / horror HK flicks (including all the aforementioned titles) than anyone on earth. One of the best and most insane is Ebola Syndrome. Directed by Herman Yau, he’s at the helm for this earlier effort and produces a nice, slick, professional looking product. Wong performs the incredibly difficult feat of portraying a serial killer that remains sympathetic throughout the film. As with Death Wish, some will actually root for the mayhem – this must have been an unforgettable experience in the theaters.
Presented widescreen anamorphic from an unrestored print. Nice quality source, though it does exhibit a minimal amount of specks and dust. Cantonese with English subtitles.
The only extras are trailers for other films, but take a look at the Ebola Syndrome trailer and see if you might can take it – YES, that’s a dare! Also interesting is the teaser trailer for A Chinese Torture Chamber Story which is much more suggestive (and therefore depraved) than the actual film.
Sometimes less is more, and Taxi Hunter makes up for lack of excess with solid, exciting, and compelling action / drama. Definitely one of the best psychotic vigilante movies to date.
Note: Hong Kong film rating comparison: Cat IIA to PG-13; Cat IIB to ‘R’; Cat III to NC-17.