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Film / High Risk

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High Risk (alternatively known as Meltdown in the U.S.) is a 1995 action-comedy film directed and produced by Wong Jing. It stars Jet Li and Jacky Cheung.

After failing to save his wife and several children from a Mad Bomber named “The Doctor,” Kit Li retires from the Honk Kong police squad and becomes a bodyguard and stunt double for action star Frankie Lone. However, two years after the tragedy, the Doctor and his group of terrorists return to cause more trouble for Kit when they storm the Hotel Grandeur and take everyone hostage. With the help of Frankie and Detective Chow, it’s up to Kit to sneak inside the hotel, save the hostages, and stop the Doctor for good.

Essentially, it’s Die Hard with more comedy and martial arts. And Jet Li.

Tropes present in High Risk include:

  • Arc Words: "No risk, no reward."
  • Animal Assassin: Rabbit tries to have Helen cornered in a toilet by releasing poisonous reptiles to maul her.
  • Big Bad: The Doctor.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Detective Chow kills Fai-Fai.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Doctor. After seemingly successfully pulling off his Villain: Exit, Stage Left in the climax, he announces to Kit that he plans on continuing his crimes, including Rape, Pillage, and Burn.
  • Car Fu: How Kit managed to force an entrance into the hotel, via driving his van through it's front, running down several mooks in the process, before proceeding to drive into a nearby elevator.
  • Cassandra Truth: Kit found out about the Doctor's impending assault on the hotel and tries warning the staff about it, but of course none of them buys a word he said. He then turns to the police for assistance, to no avail, save for Det. Chow, a rookie cop whose girlfriend Joyce is working in the hotel, and decides to escort Kit over there. They were unfortunately too late - the Doctor's mooks have successfully infiltrated the hotel, and killed off all the security guards and staff in the lobby.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Frankie. Throughout the movie, he's just a pompous Cowardly Lion. But after his father is bullied around by Kong, Frankie shows him that he really is the badass actor he portrays in his films.
  • Dark Action Girl: Fai-Fai.
  • Destination Defenestration: Done realistic with Frankie's manager, who's tossed to his death after a window pane had already shattered.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: It's Die Hard inside a hotel.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with Kit attempting to disarm a Time Bomb, and failing. Resulting in a bus containing his wife, son, and more than twenty children getting blown to bits.
  • The Dragon: Kong, the Doctor's most loyal henchman who also provides the biggest fight with Frankie.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted. Kit, trying to retrieve a video cassette containing evidence of the Doctor's activities in a display room full of mooks, managed to get in by stealing the coat and tie of another. He gets recognized almost instantly as he enters the display room, but then Kit is prepared and easily deals with all the terrorists in under a minute.
  • Dies Wide Open: The Doctor, last thing he sees before succumbing to snake venom being a group of punks looting him of his belongings.
  • Empty Elevator: After Kit and the Inspector managed to escape the lobby ambush and make their way to the penthouse, the Doctor's mooks sets up an ambush near the penthouse's elevator... only to find it empty. Kit used an alternate entrance instead.
  • Expy: The Doctor is essentially Hans Gruber while his henchman Kong is Karl. Frankie is also pretty much a fictionalized version of Jackie Chan, with Frankie's father and manager being stand-ins for Jackie's, respectively.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Doctor, who constantly talks in a calm, subtle tone when he's threatening innocents and constantly taunts Kit.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: During the display room fight between Kit and Rabbit, the latter distracts the former by kicking a dead mook at his direction.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Kong and Fai-Fai kicked each other on the crotch during their argument and ensuing fight.
    • Fai-Fai also kneed Frankie on the crotch after she revealed her true colors.
    • Frankie also accidentally hit himself there with armchair while fighting Kong.
    • Helen managed to take out a random terrorist by kicking his nuts. Before smashing his brains in with a fire extinguisher.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: As Kit crashes the chopper (see below) the rotor blade detaches and hacks an unfortunate mook into two from somewhere above the waist.
  • Hellish Copter: Kit's second attempt at infiltrating the hotel, this time via forcing a landing on it's top. Unfortunately there are mooks on the helipad firing away forcing Kit to crash into a penthouse.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The first hotel guard is killed by a terrorist's silenced pistol, which is soft enough that the other guard in the nearby guardhouse barely a meter away doesn't hear a thing.
  • Hope Spot: Seconds before the bomb in the Action Prologue goes off, Kit tells one of his men to cut the red wire. He does, and the bomb stops counting down. Then it reactivates...
  • Humble Hero: Kit quietly indicates that he doesn't want public recognition for his actions in the hotel, causing Frankie to hastily change his statement to his press that he wasn't the only hero of the evening to shared credit with the Hong Kong police.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Rabbit, courtesy of a bar from a light fixture.
  • Instant Chucks: Frankie, during his Let's Get Dangerous! moment at the end, fights Kong using a pair of hotel stanchions as chucks.
  • Irony: The Doctor's plan is to steal expensive jewels from the hotel. Seconds before the Doctor dies, some random vagrants come by and steal his watch and other jewelry he's wearing.
  • Karmic Death: The Doctor is killed by Kit after he throws a dagger into his shoulder that was poisoned from one of Rabbit's snakes.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Just when the Doctor is about to get away, he starts bleeding from the nose. Then Li coldly tells him that he's been poisoned with snake venom, and he only has seconds to live.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: When the terrorists took over the hotel, Helen, being one of the very few guests who escaped, deliberately kicks off her heels. She spends the rest of the night (and pretty much the rest of the film) barefoot.
  • Machete Mayhem: A few of the villains... notably, Fai who removes the arm of an unfortunate guard prior to killing him, and later on Kong who suddenly whips out a small machete as a backup when fighting Frankie.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Kit failed to disarm the Doctor's first bomb, resulting in his wife, son, and a bus full of children being blown up, resulting in Kit's life spiraling into depression until a year later, he's faced with disarming a second bomb, exactly identical to the first, now strapped on Helen. His second attempt is far more successful.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Helen attempts to pull this off by hiding in a toilet full of murals, disguising herself as a background picture as Rabbit walks in to take a leak. Immediately subverted seconds later - Rabbit leaves, Helen tries to get out as well, only to suddenly realize Rabbit knew she was there the whole time and had released poisonous reptiles all over the loo.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Big Bad insists on being called the Doctor.
  • Papa Wolf: Inverted. Towards the end of the film, Frankie's father is being harassed by Kong, and it's Frankie, of all people, who stands up for him and delivers Kong a beating.
  • Rasputinian Death: Rabbit. He briefly garroted, then electrocuted, and then impaled in the torso.
  • Redshirt Army: The security guards at Hotel Grandeur, all of whom are gunned down with little effort by the Doctor's men.
  • Robbing the Dead: The Doctor's last scene. Succumbing to the venom in his body, staggering out a phone booth, he begs for a trio of hooligans to get an ambulance. The hooligans instead decide to loot the Doctor's body even before he's completely dead.
  • Soft Glass:
    • Subverted. When Detective Chow jumps into a car Kit's driving, he does so by hurling his body through the rear window with no difficulty. Then the camera pans over to his leg, which is bleeding and covered in shards of glass.
    • Subverted again when Kit is fighting Rabbit. At one point during the fight, Kit bashes his head through a small glass window on a door. He starts bleeding almost immediately.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A major one; after Fai killed the unfortunate guard in the surveillance room, Rabbit, Kong and their goons began slaughtering the staff in the lobby. Fai then turns on a nearby radio playing a classical song while doing an impromptu dance with herself, as the scene intercuts with the lobby staff getting massacred while the music keeps going on.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Also doubles as a Chekhov's Gun - because the hero made an incision before sucking out the poison, there was venom on his knife, which ensures that the Big Bad isn't able to run for long when he escapes after being stabbed with that knife.
  • Take That!: The movie pokes fun at most 90s action movies, especially Die Hard and Speed. The director also allegedly based Frankie's character off of Jackie Chan, implying that he was a womanizer who never did his own stunts. Jet Li later issued a public apology to Jackie Chan for having taken part in this movie, and it is believed that residual bad blood over the affair may have had a part in delaying a Jackie Chan/Jet Li on-screen collaboration until The Forbidden Kingdom, when both actors were middle-aged.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The Doctor and his mercenaries. All they care about is getting rich, and the Doctor seems to enjoy detonating his bombs around the city even after he gets what he wants.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Frankie goes from a Cowardly Lion to managing to taking on Kong in the final battle.
  • Undignified Death: How many films end with the Big Bad getting his corpse looted even as he's succumbing to his wounds? Leaving him penniless and lifeless at the side of a rubbish-strewn road? While a triumphant jazz music plays in the background? Besides this one?
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The Doctor pulls this off near the climax after Kit throws a knife at his shoulder, but not before taunting Kit that he's failed again.
  • Wire Dilemma: Kit's wife was killed because he made the wrong call on which wire to pull on a bomb made by the Doctor. Then he runs into another bomb of the same type on his new love interest. It turns out that it didn't matter if he picked red or blue, because the real control wire was a smaller, uncolored wire that was easy to miss.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How the Doctor manages to escape police custody in the end. It doesn't last long.