Born Wild

Born Wild

Rating: 8/10
Year: 2001
Genre: Action
Director: Patrick Leung
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Patrick Tam, Jo Kuk

Born Wild is way more creative and entertaining than I expected. New director Patrick Leung demonstrates his potential and successfully secures his space as one of the most promising directors in his generation.

In this film, there are two protagonists, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu, who are supposed to be twin brothers. The film starts with the death of Koo. After Wu receives the news of his brother's death, he wants to find out who the murderer is. He starts out his own investigation. With the help of Koo's best friend Patrick Tam and his girl Jo Kuk, Wu, for the first time since his birth, is able to fully understand what his brother thinks. At last, he finally gets to reveal the mastermind behind his brother's death and he decides to take revenge for his brother...

It is said that the director of this film, Patrick Leung, is a student of John Woo. It explains why this film resembles John Woo's gangster films (like A Better Tomorrow or The Killer) so much in terms of the narrative style and the characters development. It is obvious that Leung has inherited the spirit of John Woo's films.

Daniel Wu and Louis Koo are two brothers who have totally opposite personalities. They are connected by the characters of a singer girl and a friend of Koo. Although the brothers are different superficially, they do share a same trait inherently, that is, they are both natural born fighter. The idea behind this plot is actually similar to John Woo's The Killer a lot, in which Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee are supposed to be antagonistic yet admire the other's ability. They are also the same type of person who think in the same logic. There are several scenes in Born Wild that can be used to illustrate these similarities. In the scene when Wu is sitting on the bed and imagining, a dissolve brings us back to Koo in the same setting. Identically, in The Killer, there is also a similar scene. When Falcon (Danny Lee) is searching for clues in Sally Yeh's house, he sits on the couch and muses. There the frame dissolves from Lee to Chow Yun Fat who are also sitting on the same couch. In both films, the two protagonists interact without facing each other face to face.

Perhaps the story of Born Wild is inspired by John Woo's films, nevertheless, Leung does not copy Woo's cinematic techniques tediously. He rather injects his own signature into his film. He plays with the cinematic techniques of fast and slow motion, episodic narrative structure and first person POV creatively. The creative use of his cinematic techniques greatly enriches the narrative and enhances the captivating qualities of the characters.

Under his magical camera, Patrick Leung turns Louis Koo into a powerful boxer, despite his amateur fighting move. Although Daniel Wu is not very muscular, Leung succeeds in making us believe that he is a good fighter. The only character I don't like is Jo Kuk. Apart from linking the two brothers in a brief scene, it seems that this character fails to propel the plot at all. Compared to Kuk, the character of Patrick Tam is much more important and interesting.

With energetic direction by Patrick Leung and painstaking performance of the entire cast, Born Wild is without doubt the top 10 movies produced in Hong Kong in 2001.

VCD (HK version) - Acceptable image and sound qualities with readable English subtitles. If you only buy 10 Asian movies a year, this is the one you should not miss.

Cool guy(s) - Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Patrick Tam

Reviewed by: Kantorates