The Postman Strikes Back


In this film Chow Yun Fat lives in a HK that has been nearly destroyed by nuclear war and one day he chances upon a bag of mail and decides to take the Star Ferry to Kowloon and deliver it - thus bringing back civilization.
Oh, wrong film. Sorry, in this one he plays a rugged handsome drifter who chances upon an isolated diner, a sultry wife (Veronica Yip) and a greasy husband (Ng Man-Tat) and the inevitable scenario is played out.
Chow Yun Fat and Leung Kar Yan
Oh damn, it’s not that one either. Actually Chow Yun Fat is not even the postman in this Western kung-fu flick. Western in the sense that it reminded me very much of the old Hollywood westerns. Four men (CYF being one of them) are hired by Eddie Ko to transport a box with unknown contents across hostile territory. They are attacked constantly by bandits, bounty hunters and revolutionaries. They cross barren plains and snow covered vistas. At one point they even do a “circle the wagons” scenario when they are crossing a frozen lake and surrounded by sword wielding ninjas on ice skates!
Fan Mui Sheng and Yuen Yat Chor
Chow Yun Fat – looking very young and trim – does some kung fu, but lets just say that it was a good thing that "heroic bloodshed" came along. He does have a neat wrist projectile weapon that is sneaky and deadly. I wasn’t really expecting much from this film, but as it goes along it gets better and better with a lot of action and the tension starts to grow. There are some really imaginative bits; such as tying dynamite to the tails of rats and setting them loose in the enemy's compound. Cherie Chung in her first role tags along with the foursome, but this first of a number of pairings with CYF has no romance. Ronnie Yu (Bride with White Hair) directs.
Eddie Ko and Cherie Chung

My rating for this film: 7.0



Reviewed by YTSL

Eighteen years before he played a kung fu master in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, Chow Yun-Fat appeared in a Ronnie Yu directed film that contains its share of martial artistic action and characters who get revealed somewhere along the line to be less innocent than they initially appeared.  Although these two entertaining efforts surely are on opposite sides of the spectrum with regards to such as the budgets that their makers had at their disposal, one other similarity that this often spartan looking production -- which nonetheless can boast of having quite a few notable names in its crew as well as cast -- does share with Ang Lee’s celebrated offering is that the individual who has been lauded as “the God of Actors” -- but was looked upon as “box office poison” back in 1982 -- does not have as big a part to play in the actually shot-in-South Korea (as opposed to any of “the three Chinas”) movie as it might be assumed that he would.

Instead, the titular character of that which is variously known as “A Postman Fights Back”, “The Postman Fights Back” and POSTMAN STRIKES BACK comes in the more than capable form of Leung Kar Yan (AKA “Beardy” to his fans).  At the start of the Tony Au art directed work (that’s set in the turbulent early part of the twentieth century during which Yuan Shi Kai had risen up to challenge Sun Yat Sen’s administrative authority), its pragmatic protagonist -- who gets referred to in the English subtitles as “courier” Ma -- is shown being content to lead a modest plus honest existence as the deliverer of letters, small packages and messages for residents of remote Chinese villages who (nevertheless) may have relatives and contacts in metropolises like Shanghai and Canton.  However, first economic realities, then those with major politics and/or deception seriously on their minds, intrude and induce him to agree to deliver four medium sized boxes containing a gift from a powerful personage who had declared himself the emperor of China to a glorified warlord whose loyalty he was seeking to win over.
The far from rich Ma meets the acquaintance of the wealthy looking man who announced that he was willing to pay an unmiserly 300 taels of gold for the successful execution of a job that was not supposed to take up more than seven days by way of a petty thief type character named Yao Chai (who gets rather thanklessly played by Yuen Yat Chor).  In turn, Yuan Shi Kai’s emissary -- who identified himself as Hu (and is suitably given mysterious plus arrogant airs by Eddy Ko) -- introduces the courier to a gentlemanly individual named Fu Jun and makes a convincing case for it being beneficial to have Chow Yun-Fat’s POSTMAN STRIKES BACK character along for what promised to be a hazardous ride on account of his having “underworld” (i.e., “jiang hu”?) contacts that could be utilized (should the need arise to do so).  What with Hu dramatically stating that he would prefer that this shipment get blown up than get into the wrong hands, it (also) made sense for an explosives expert named Bu (essayed by Fan Mui Sheng) to be added to this delivery team.
Just as the four men are about to set off on their mission, they get joined by a female villager named Gui Hua (quietly portrayed by Cherie Chung), who seems to have illogically opted to take a roundabout as well as potentially dangerous route to the big city where she hoped to be reunited with a sister who her impoverished father had sold.  Midway in their journey (which does end up being a pretty dangerous one that involves their being attacked more than once by gun wielding as well as kung fu fighting individuals), this rather rag-tag five-some run into a woman who is being pursued by bandits and successfully rescue her from them.  Since Ms. Li (who may have been the one and only Hong Kong movie role that Guk Ching Suk ever had) claimed to be from the place near where they are headed, they (temporarily and fairly happily) add her to their group.  After all, they knew so little then about those things and people that they would have much cause to regret having latterly encountered.
At this juncture in POSTMAN STRIKES BACK, that which looks to be a transitional piece that admittedly is more of an Old School kung fu movie than a New Wave production or wire fu work has certainly not been boring but still seems to have steered along fairly conventional lines.  Soon thereafter though, it gets considerably enlivened by the kind of imaginative touches that Hong Kong film fans have come to associate with its credited presenter (but not action director).  More specifically, certain devices, elements and imagery that feature in this offering will seem familiar to those who have also viewed the Ching Siu Tung helmed “Duel to the Death”, “A Chinese Ghost Story” I and II (and presumably also III), and “Swordsman II”.  This (re)viewer is additionally willing to wager that commonalities will be detected between one of this Golden Harvest production’s female characters and Brigitte Lin’s in the Ching Siu Tung action directed “Peking Opera Blues” (that, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, does take place in the same troubled time period as this earlier effort that also happens to have Cherie Chung in its cast).

My rating for the film: 7.