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With: Robin Shou, Sammo Hung, Beatrice Chia, Keith Cooke, Hakim Alston
Written by: Robin Shou, Craig Reid
Directed by: Robin Shou
MPAA Rating: R for language and violent images
Language: English, Chinese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 100
Date: 04/05/2003

Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen (2004)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Chance Beatings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In an attempt to pay homage to Hong Kong stuntmen, director/actor RobinShou created the new documentary Red Trousers by picking apart his own2001 short film, a dreadful English-language kung-fu contraption calledLost Time. He combines finished footage of that film withbehind-the-scenes stuntwork as well as clips and interviews.

Shou (star of Mortal Kombat) interviews himself and several stuntmen, looking for their personal philosophies. He only sometimes gets them; mostly they seem afraid of looking bad and losing face in front of the other stuntmen. Of course, it's their boss that's doing the interviewing, and it's doubtful that anyone said anything off record.

With his years of experience, the legendary Sammo Hung (My Lucky Stars) provides the most interesting insights, talking about stuntmen's roots in the Peking Opera, but nothing that helps us really to understand this dangerous profession.

The film is often rambling and confusing; Shou never identifies any film clips, and he too often returns to Lost Time. Still, Red Trousers has its revealing moments. We learn that very often, when you see a stunt in a HK film, special effects are not involved. Someone actually crashed through a glass roof and landed on hard wooden planks; there's pride in the fact that it's real. Unsurprisingly, the documentary's few stunt sequences -- both successful and failed -- carry more weight than anything else.

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