The Hong Kong martial arts version of Jekyll and Hyde, with Hyde as the mythical fighting champion known as the White Tiger battling the Triads, drug trafficking and illegal organ transplants.
Directed by: Colin Budds
. Starring: Adam Baldwin
, Steve Bastoni
, Anthony Brandon Wong
, Jason Chong
, Karen Cliche
, Kira Clavell
, Helene Joy
, Peter Gow
, Alistair MacDougall
, Aaron James Cash
, Tseng Chang
, Linden Goh
, Steve Tan
. Music by: Garry McDonald
, Laurie Stone
This was another movie that I've owned the DVD for roughly a decade. I picked it up and when I was trying to obtain as many of the versions of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as I could. I really had no idea what this was going to do so I came in blind, aside from having seen other versions and read the novel. The synopsis here is the Hong Kong marital arts version of Jekyll and Hyde that includes Triads, drug trafficking an illegal organ transplants.
Now I did alter the synopsis a bit as it really spoils a major plot, but to be honest, it really isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. We start though with a monk talking to a hooded figure before switching to an altercation between the triads and other gangsters. It ends up with the leader of the other group being killed.
We then shift to the United States. Dr. Jekyll (Adam Baldwin) is performing his last surgery at the hospital and he's being given grief by his follow doctors. His plan is to go into plastic surgery and make more money. First he marries Mary Riley (Helene Joy), which I didn't realize her name until now paying homage to the film with Julia Roberts. They get married and go to Hong Kong for their honeymoon.
While there they meet Mr. Wong (Tseng Chang) who takes them on a tour of the harbor with his boat. Mary isn't feeling well and Mr. Wong reveals he's a doctor of Chinese medicine. He thinks that he can help her, but Dr. Jekyll doesn't trust it. They return to land and she goes back to the room to take a bath. Dr. Jekyll wants to go to the local hospital so he can write off their visit as business expense.
He's given a tour by Oliver (Aaron James Cash) and things take a turn when triads who were just in a gunfight show up. Ah Yee (Jason Chong) sees Dr. Jekyll and asks if he's a doctor. Dr. Jekyll confirms he is but that he doesn't work here. He is forced to help Ah's friend at gunpoint. The problem is there's nothing that can be done. Dr. Jekyll tries to escape by cutting Ah's face, but he can't get away and he's knocked out.
Dr. Jekyll wakes up as a prisoner of Ah. He realizes he's missing a kidney and taken outside of the boat. It is there that he sees Mary is tied to a nearby buoy. Dr. Jekyll goes to save her, but figures out that she has a bomb on her. It is too late and they're both hurt in the explosion. Mary passes away, but Mr. Wong took Dr. Jekyll in. He saves him with Chinese medicine and starts to teach him the properties of the different herbs. Dr. Jekyll uses this to become Mr. Hyde and goes about getting his revenge. There's a much bigger plot with the men that he's going up against and Mr. Wong is also hiding a secret.
Now if you know me, I give credit to movies that try to do something different. This one does that and I can appreciate some aspects to it for sure. The big thing that I dug was the fact that we have a doctor, Jekyll, who is trained in western medicine. He experiments with these herbs that give him superhuman strength and what not. I thought that was a pretty cool twist to this story that's been done over and over again. This is slightly problematic as it isn't all that feasible. I'll digress there though.
Going from that, the synopsis is misleading about this being the martial arts version of the story. I like that they took it to another country. That gives it another twist. The problem is that we really get a training montage of Dr. Jekyll and then we see Mr. Hyde fight once? In general, this movie's runtime of 105 minutes, I'd be surprised if there was more than 15 minutes of this aspect that it is pushing.
That's another problem with this movie is that it runs too long. I'm not going to lie, but I found this to be not all that interesting. I think there are some good things to play with here, but it doesn't work as well as they want. We have a few different storylines that don't really go anywhere and it seems like they're trying to do too much since they didn't fully flesh it out. I think they should have just stuck with Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and the triad angle with the cops trying to figure things out. There's more than this and it just bogs things down. The ending is also a bit meh and the 'superhero'-ish angle didn't work for me either.
Moving to this to the acting, I think Baldwin was miscast to be honest. I think they have him here as name recognition, but I'm sorry, I don't buy him as the doctor. This seems like a movie where they should have had someone smaller be Dr. Jekyll and use Baldwin as Mr. Hyde. He does physically fit there and for the revenge aspects of the movie. Steve Bastoni plays McAfee and I don't understand why this character is in the movie. This goes under one of the storylines that doesn't add much for me. I did think that Wong was good though in his role. I also thought the same about Chang who is the wise, old teacher. I did like seeing Kira Clavell in this movie as well as seeing Joy nude.
The effects weren't great either. We're in that phase was CGI was being used more and this is a TV movie so they don't have a lot of budget to work with. There's this weird effect when Mr. Hyde is there and it didn't make sense at first. It does in the end and I despised it. Partly because it doesn't look good and the other is that it is too ham-fisted in for what they're going for. The rest of the effects from what I could remember were fine including the blood. I know there were some eyes that look fake, but I did like what they do with Mr. Hyde's. The cinematography was fine aside from that.
The last thing to cover I will give the movie credit was for the soundtrack. They have selections that really fit that were in Hong Kong. They're really traditional and just gave it that eastern vibe for sure. Not a score I would listen to regularly, but I had no problems with how it fit into this movie at all.
Now with that said, this movie isn't very good. I was disappointed as I think there are some aspects that could have set this one apart for sure. I like moving it to a new location is one and what changes Dr. Jekyll is another. The problem though is that they bogged the story down with too much that doesn't add anything and I was bored. I don't buy Baldwin as Dr. Jekyll and I don't know why Bastoni is in this movie, but the rest of the cast fit for what was needed. There are some bad effects, but also some that are fine along with the cinematography.
Review by david_rudy_lee from the Internet Movie Database.