Outlaw Brothers (Zui jia zei pai dang) (1990) is a high action martial arts film from Hong Kong starring Frankie Chan. It combines humor and action, and must be given bonus points for having Yukari Oshima as a strong female protagonist that loves to get down and dirty. Although similar to many films that have come out of the action genre from Hong Kong during the 80s and 90s, Outlaw Brothers is still worthy of a watch and possibly an inclusion into a martial arts fan collection.
James (Chan) and Bond (Siu Chung Mok) are successful car thieves. They steal luxury cars and resell them for Uncle Dan (Yue Ding), and their profits are huge. The police need to capture them, and Tequila (Oshima) is one tough cop that can get the job done.
The tale is pretty basic–crooks steal cars, make money, charm women, police on their tail. However, later in the film, drug smugglers led by Miego (Michiko Nishiwaki) somehow become involved in the story in order to make things more exciting. There’s no reason for them to be in the film and it’s funny how her henchmen are all white guys. There were also side characters that didn’t contribute much to the story, and some may find the humor used in the film a little risque or inappropriate (particularly relating to spousal abuse).
James and Bond are both charming characters and smooth talkers, and know how to do their job. They love fashion, and they’re pretty likable guys, even if they are womanizers. The police officers are bumbling and entertaining characters, with Tequila as their strongest weapon. Seeing female characters with actual martial arts skills instead of serving as victims or eye candy is relieving and awesome, though Nishiwaki could have had more on screen action time. Another positive point is how Tequila took hits and became visibly injured instead of coming out of a fight unscathed. Even Bond’s girlfriend put up a fight when she faced thugs. Outlaw Brothers’ portrayal of women is mixed, but can still be considered somewhat satisfactory.
Action scenes are intense and thrilling to get into, and fans of Jackie Chan‘s films will recognize the same humor and prop infused format he follows in his films. Various weapons are used in combat, and multiple target fights are fast and frequent. The cars featured are beautiful, stylish and give an air of luxury to the film. Characters are well dressed and full of personality and fighting skills. The overall story could use a few improvements, but the film is still entertaining.
Outlaw Brothers is a throwback classic from the early 90s and is a must see for martial arts fans!