A Hero Never Dies (1998)Directed by: Johnny To
Starring: Leon Lai, Ching Wan Lau
Tagline: "So Fortune Teller, are you going to get shot today?"
A gang boss named Mr Yam is going to see his fortune teller in Thailand. While he is there one of his gang members named Jack gets impatient; the results are bad for the fortune teller.
Not long after, we learn that the gang is currently at war with another for control of Hong Kong. Jack and company are ambushed by the rival gang and a gunfight ensues.
At the end of the battle, Jack goes to give one of the deceased back his dignity, but he is targeted by a sniper with a laser-sighted rifle. The sniper is also wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigar. This sniper is Martin, a head honcho from the rival gang who is a mutual enemy of Jack.
Jack and Co. decide to pay Martin's apartment a visit to 'redecorate' (not before exchanging phone messages in a very funny sequence).
They both meet up at a bar where they crash their cars into one another repeatedly. When they enter the establishment, everyone leaves. This is because they begin their wine tasting contest, where the aim seems to be to not let the other person drink their wine.
Later, Martin calls on his boss, Fong, to report that he couldn't kill Jack. Fong wants him to go back to Thailand as Mr Yam has gone back to his fortune teller.
In a motel out in the middle of nowhere during a fierce thunderstorm, a massive gunfight ensues between Jack and Martin's gangs and there are many casualties. Whether Jack and Martin are among them is up to you to find out, but the results are not entirely what you would expect...
This movie is the favourite Hong Kong action movie of many people for a very good reason. I have even seen a fan with their own labelled bottle of wine based on this movie, so you could tell it was very special for them.
Even though this movie is based on the old triad rivalry premise, the characters of Martin and Jack are played so well it is what makes this movie stand out. You can tell the two adversaries have a lot of respect for each other, despite being in opposing gangs.
The same theme has been covered in the many police vs. triad movies, but not with the style shown here. My favourite scene is the stand off in the bar between Martin and Jack and how they resolve it.
Some of the gun fight scenes are the best I have seen in any Hong Kong action movie. There are many things seen here that are unique which helps the movie be all the more memorable. This movie deserves a much wider audience as it easily matches the best of John Woo and other action directors.