August 27, 2023

TAXI HUNTER and the Sympathetic Cabbie Killer

1993 / 90 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

Who doesn’t love a good revenge story? And the more traumatizing the tragedy, the sweeter the payback. Things don’t get more traumatizing than losing your wife and unborn child during a single careless act. As such, Taxi Hunter is an excellent vigilante film.

Kin (Anthony Wong) is a meek businessman who tends to turn the other cheek rather than engage in conflict, as exemplified when a crooked cab driver stages an accident and bullies him into paying for the damages. In fact, the entire Hong Kong taxi service appears to be corrupt, bilking customers out of money with all kinds of demands and fees.

Then one night, when his pregnant wife is experiencing extreme abdominal pain, Kin hails a cab. The driver sees that she’s bleeding and doesn’t want to mess up his seats, so he demands more money than Kin has on him. As he speeds away, Kin's wife gets caught in the door and is dragged down the street. She and the baby are killed.

Unable to put the tragedy behind him, Kin begins a one-man war on taxi drivers, venturing out at night and violently killing the crooked ones. His spree soon makes headlines, so the police go undercover as cabbies to try and catch the killer. One of those cops, Yu Kai-Chung (Yu Rongguang), also happens to be his best friend, and soon suspects Kin could be the taxi driver killer.

"Which end goes boom?"
Thematically, Taxi Hunter shares more similarities with Death Wish than the usual revenge film. In that one, you might recall that Paul Kersey doesn’t actually get even with the guys who killed his wife and raped his daughter. His vigilantism is a form of catharsis. Similarly, Kin isn’t targeting anyone in particular, but all corrupt cabbies. As depicted in the film, most of them have it coming. 

Wong delivers a strong, sympathetic performance (which was an apparent change of pace from antagonist roles he was known for). His growth (or descent) from benign citizen to revenge-fueled killer is not-only convincing, it’s extremely satisfying for the audience, as we vicariously experience the same rage he does. Rongguang is also solid as Kai-Chung, the only person who expresses concern over Kin’s well-being. The same can't be said about Man-Tat Ng as Gao, Kai-Chung’s abrasive partner. Loud, obnoxious and buffoonish, he’s a cartoon caricature who ruins every scene he appears in.

Other than that, Taxi Hunter hits all the right notes with a great premise, sharp direction and excellent action sequences, making it well-worth checking out for those who love watching some well-deserved payback. Inexplicably, it was also designated as a ‘Category III’ film back in the ‘90s. Category III was Hong Kong’s equivalent of NC-17 and has a history of being synonymous with exploitation at its most depraved. While certainly violent, Taxi Hunter is nowhere nearly as lurid or brutal as the label suggests.


INTERVIEWS - Hunting for Words - Interview with screenwriter-producer Tony Leung Hung Wah; Falling Down in Hong Kong - Interview with actor Anthony Wong; How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? - Interview with action director James Ha.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng.



DOUBLE SIDED POSTER - With new & vintage artwork.

REVERSIBLE COVER - With new & vintage artwork.

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