Chow Yun-Fat could most certainly be considered as Hong Kong’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis. He’s spent decades in front of the camera firing several bullets in highly acclaimed John Woo action films like Hard Boiled and floating around and kicking the air in historical flicks like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Take that reputation in to consideration when you read what Google describes as the plot to Wild Search: “A police officer must protect a child from the ruthless gunrunners she saw murder her mother”.
What does that plot elicit in your head? Surely it’s a cop running down several streets as hundreds of men armed with assault rifles fire carelessly at him. While he’s running he drags a young girl with him by the hand as he fires back at them with a pistol. Whatever your brain thought up, it was most likely something that was a lot more action packed than Wild Search. Even the title including the word “wild” in its name is false advertising. There’s not that much of a search and when searching occurs, it’s not THAT wild.
Wild Search ends up being quite a slow film with very little in the way of action sequences. The film tends to focus a lot more on Chow Yun-Fat’s character’s budding romance with the aunt of the girl who’s mother is murdered. There’s a surprising amount of standard rom-com moments sprinkled throughout the film. There’s even a scene where Yun-Fat goes to bed and dreams about all of the happy times he’s had with the girl’s aunt. This is illustrated with a montage of all of the scenes up until that point in the film where the two characters share moments of sexual tension.
There is SOME action, though it doesn’t really start to properly kick off until the last half hour or so. When it does arrive, it’s not particularly impressive either. There’s a lot of very obvious cuts (which aren’t exclusively in the action scenes) and there’s even one scene with an unsubtle dummy in the place of someone being run over.
The film is not without it’s charm, however. The romance between the two main characters is quite sweet and leads to a rather lovely ending moment the couple share. The two also never kiss in the context of the film, the director never needs to show them doing this because their bond is clearly implied. Yun-Fat’s fellow police officers are all fun in their own way and though you never really get to know them particularly well, their presence is enjoyable. This goes the same for the young girl and her grandfather. The same can’t be said on the other hand for the film’s villains. They’re all as generic as gangsters get – just a group of angry gun wielding psychopaths.
It’s clear Chow Yun-Fat wanted a film where he could relax a bit more than his usual cinematic outings. The result is not a massively unpleasant experience, but there are plenty of other films like this that are much more worth a watch.
Wild Search will be available on Blu-Ray as part of the Eureka Classics Range from July 19th