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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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon: Kong, the Doctor's most loyal henchman who also provides the biggest fight with Frankie.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Rabbit, courtesy of a bar from a light fixture.
  • 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: Beautifully subverted. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 mangaging to taking on Kong in the final battle.
  • 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.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How the Doctor manages to escape police custody in the end. It doesn't last long.


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