Red Line Review: Andy Lau Is The Only Saving Grace In Silly Race-Car Flick From Sons Of Late Taiwanese Stunt Legend Blackie Ko - 8days Skip to main content



Red Line Review: Andy Lau Is The Only Saving Grace In Silly Race-Car Flick From Sons Of Late Taiwanese Stunt Legend Blackie Ko

Imagine Fast & Furious — with an ambulance. 
Red Line Review: Andy Lau Is The Only Saving Grace In Silly Race-Car Flick From Sons Of Late Taiwanese Stunt Legend Blackie Ko

Red Line (NC16)

Starring, Ella Chen, Alan Kuo, Andy Lau, Karena Lam

Directed by Jacky Ko

Red Line opens two weeks after Fast X, presumably hoping to catch some box-office slipstream.

You wouldn’t think it’s possible. But plot-wise, compared to those crazy Fast & Furious flicks, this Taiwanese car racing pic actually looks even more bonkers.

At least the people in F&F drive cars. The main dude here, Wang Le (rapper in his film debut), is a speed punk who races in — get this — an ambulance.

He’s a street racer who suddenly wants to do good after he emergency-drives a pregnant woman to a hospital in a car, experiences an epiphany and decides to become an ambulance driver. “I don’t have to stop at red lights, super cool,” he reasons.

This story looks like a gimmick conceived atop a car hood. Which could be where actor Alan Kuo (Din Tao: Leader Of The Parade) co-scripted this barmy romance — not fuel — charged turbo tale for his younger brother, Jacky Ko, to direct as his first pic here.

The movie starts off with road racing and then veers completely off-course in a different direction with a sappy, aw-shucks love deal between Le, the low SES fella, and a tidy doctor, Hui (S.H.E.’s Ella Chen).

Let’s put this in road terms. These two dissimilar plot routes don’t ensure a smooth convergence.

Somehow the good gal, who’s organised and by-the-book, takes a liking to the bad boy, impulsive and untamed, while putting him down in an opposites-attract way that can only happen in an un-rigorous Taiwanese drama.

“People with no class have bad luck,” she tells him. Me? My insulted inner Ah Beng would’ve told me to walk away right there.

Red Line: takes Ella Chen out for a spin in his ambulance.

The doc cautions Le about killing patients instead of saving them with his fast driving. But, bizarrely, her professional obligations do not straightaway compel her to ban her boyfriend from any ambulance and worse, act as a paramedic with no qualification or training at all.

Even more absurd, the fella drives the ambo around as if it’s his own personal vehicle. Exactly who owns it? The hospital? The government? Le’s car chop shop? Formula One’s ambulance committee?

The whole preposterous thing is sort of like Initial D meets the ambo portion of TV’s Chicago Fire meets an instant-noodle social-divide coupling cooked up in five minutes.

For good measure, writer Kuo also pops up as a veteran car guru named Chieh who gets offed early in the show but comes back in flashbacks to impart burnt-rubber wisdom about the sacred rules of racing to his younger hothead-gearhead crew called the Blue Colts who are seeking payback.

Chieh, the big brother of Le, is pushed down a cliff in his car by a mysterious driver who tailgates him menacingly on a winding mountain road like a James Bond assassin.

By the way, both real bros here — director Ko and writer Kuo (don’t ask me why their surnames are spelt differently) — are sons of the late Taiwanese movie stunt-car legend, Blackie Ko. 

The ambo angle is, of course, Red Line’s nutty big draw. But the more interesting kick is Andy Lau playing the stone-cold baddie driving a vicious car dubbed the “Hellcat” as calmly and unflappably as Ryan Gosling in Drive as he hunts down his victims mercilessly.

The man chases illegal street racers over the roads, including even an unfinished bridge, to make them crash because he blames them for allegedly causing the deaths of his beloved wife and child whom we see in doting sepia-toned Kodak moments interspersed throughout the film.

Hey, this is Andy Lau and he’s gotta have an understandable reason for playing a cruel homicidal-suicidal vehicle psycho, right?

A former “God Of Racing” with big beef against the two brothers, he’s a serial road-killer with a death wish when he says cryptically to his family, “I hope to see you both at the finish line”.

Er, okay, as you wish, Uncle Andy. He means meeting them at the finish line after he’s won his races. But we know it’s really about something far darker as the crew hits their racing underworld talking tough with speedster-hipster attitude to find out who’s the lunatic that’s targeting them.

Man, you half expect Jay Chou from Initial D to show up in these underground scenes.

Now, Lau apparently took part in this film to support his pal Blackie’s two sons. So this is really an automatic auto family reunion.   

Although you actually forget there’s even racing here since the movie spends a whole chunk of time on that fave Taiwanese-show pastime — a cheesy lovey-dovey romance that makes you wanna step in front of a truck.

Which means we get to see the two fledgling lovebirds go on a cutesy rom spree that takes in an empty baseball stadium, video racing games, motorbike rides and the stuff that juveniles spout inanely — “If you’re unhappy, then I’m unhappy too.”

Writer Kuo must’ve imagined this here to be a redemptive story for both hero and villain.

The good guy drives the ambulance to rectify his aimless soul. The bad one assuages his vengeful spirit by asserting murderous zen mumbo jumbo.     

Lau is easily the best thing in Red Line even when he coolly and unexpectedly pops up to sit right next to E.SO at a bar for a pseudo philosophical chat which brings all previously urgent searches for him to a sudden and incongruous what-the-hell-did-we-go-through-all-that-for total halt.

“Save one, kill one, we are very similar,” the Hellcat baddie tells Le before the ultimate CVA (Car Vs Ambulance) sequence.

Huh? WTF does that mean?

Aiyah, never mind lah. It’s Uncle Andy.

He can say whatever he wants behind any wheel. (2/5 stars)

Photos: Golden Village



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