Run Tiger Run Review
After the death of his parents, 4 year old Richie (Bin Bin) has been left in the charge of his rich and eccentric Grandpa Steak (Tsui Hark). The child is rather spoilt and is given everything he could possibly wish for – everything except the one thing he needs – the love of his parents. All Grandpa Steak can do is ensure that there is enough staff to look after the child, and hires a nanny Mary Lee (Yin Tze Pan), who proves herself capable by passing an unusual job interview. When his grandfather dies however he leaves his vast fortune to Richie. However if anything should happen to Richie, the money will of course go to the next of kin, who just happens to be his mean, evil and sleazy uncle James (Frank Hsu). Obviously, the kid is in trouble.
Richie runs off and goes into hiding. Pursued by Uncle James’s goons, they mistakenly pick up Tommy (Bin Bin), a young street urchin who walks the roads with his drifter uncle Ray Shit (Teddy Robin Kwan), who just happens to be a double for Richie. With both Uncle James and Ray both falling for the charms of the nanny Mary Lee, and James attempting to carry out his nefarious plan to dispose of his nephew, the scene is set for some wacky complications.
I know what you’re thinking. This doesn’t exactly sound like the regular John Woo film plot, right? There’s a certain lack of dangerous assassins who acquire a conscience here and no maverick cops on their tail who have a grudging admiration for their adversary, and there are certainly no slow-motion, double-handed, bullet ballets, multi-angle explosions and face-to-face stand-offs. Well, yes, towards the end maybe, but not in the way you are thinking. If you can imagine him applying his extraordinary visual style and the kinetics of his action movies to a remake of Home Alone or The Prince and The Pauper, that’s effectively what John Woo achieves in this colourful, cute-kid comedy.
The same sense of hyper-exaggeration in both plot dynamic and characterisation is evident here. Little rich kid Richie Steak has a super hi-tech playroom where everything is controlled from a computer console, his nanny Mary Lee is all pink frills and sweetness, when his wicked uncle appears in the room, he is accompanied by thunderclaps, sulphurous mist and evil guitar chords, and then there are the itinerants Tommy and Ray Shit – need I say more? Woo’s sense of comedy similarly draws from slapstick silent movie tricks (a Buster Keaton table with the condiments on strings), and exaggerates them to extremes, the characters hamming it up, mugging and gurning to almost cartoonish effect – there’s even the old fizzing bombs and sawing around under someone’s feet. If the CGI technology had been available at the time this was made, it would no doubt have looked like Kung Fu Hustle.
For most people, this will all be far too wacky by half, but rather like the early Steve Martin films, it has a knowing edge of self-parody and a perfectly attuned sense of how far to push the silliness, with no joke or situation too low or obvious to stoop to – hence the old switching-the-drugged-drink routine is aided by skull and cross-bones graphics, and the unfortunate victim of wrong glass finds himself with a nasty bout of embarrassing flatulence. With John Woo’s astonishing visual sense, pace and stylisation and the whole eighties day-glo colouring that marks this film as being of a certain nostalgic period for fans of the director’s Hong Kong work, Run Tiger Run can often be lot of fun.
Run Tiger Run is released in the UK by Optimum Releasing under their Optimum Asia imprint. The DVD is Region 2 encoded and is in PAL format.
The primary and pastel colours are reasonably well transferred on this release, bold, deep and rich in tone – but it is variable and the colour timing can change dramatically from scene to scene, sometimes appearing rather warmly sepia tinted. The image is slightly soft and blacks aren’t particularly strong, but there is decent definition in the image. Rather more problematic than all this are the flaws in the print that are characteristic of films from the period and often inherent in the actual negatives. Frames wobble slightly and jump about, and there are some large scratches and splices visible. Horizontal video like scratches also speckle the transfer on a couple of occasions. None of this is really that much of a problem, particularly if you are used to older Hong Kong videos and DVDs, and while evidently far from pristine, the film is certainly watchable and still enjoyable.
The only audio track option available on this release is a rather lousy quality English dub – but you know, again it doesn’t really matter on a film like this. The original songs and music can be heard in the background and they are fairly wobbly and a bit flat. The dubbed English dialogue isn’t the clearest either, but it is adequate. The quality of the actual dubbing isn’t bad either, matching the tone and character of the film well. This is really made for kids and they aren’t going to notice any difference here.
There are no subtitle options or hard of hearing subtitles.
There are no extra features on this release.
As long as you aren’t expecting great cinematic art or even great John Woo, Run Tiger Run is dumb, silly, unsophisticated, cute-kid comedy and it’s a lot of fun. There a lot wrong with Optimum’s dubbed edition of the movie on DVD, but likewise, it doesn’t matter a great deal - the film works well with all its flaws. Your kids would love it.
Last updated: 24/06/2018 23:46:53