True Colours (1986) / Action-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG for some adult themes and some violent action
Running Time: 132 min.
Cast: Ti Lung, Raymond Wong, Lam Jan Hong, Brigitte Lin, Wong Hap, Kong Do,
Director: Kirk Wong
Screenplay: Raymond Wong
Lung, Wong and May have been lifelong friends, but circumstances forced Lung to flee the scene for five years after being a not-so-nice guy. When he returns, he finds that his once tough friend Wong has becomes a priest leading an orphanage for boys, while May has gotten hitched with a local crime lord. Lung makes it his mission to save May, while also annoying Wong by showing the impressionable teens some very bad habits. The scene is set to get their revenge and make their getaway, but how can one man overcome dozens of hardened killers?
Kirk Wong (Crime Story, Organized Crime and Triad Bureau) directs this typical mid-80s action-drama to mostly dreary results. Like many other similar films on the scene around this time, True Colours is rife with cheesiness, from the terrible score (oddly reminiscent of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" during the slower moments), awful supporting cast, and sloppy direction. It's all so ultra-violent, with a markedly dark tone that makes enjoyment impossible unless you just like lots of blood and wounds on display.
The only thing that keeps the film from sinking to the depths of unwatchability are the fine performances by the main players, with Ti Lung and Brigitte Lin standing out in particular, and occasionally interesting drama that contains some choice moral arguments. It's a bit clichéd, as you've seen the "one brother's a priest, the other's a criminal" element too many times to be truly impressed, while the one-man-army of retribution storyline was by this time quite the staple of the 80s action film.
True Colours is only of interest to fervent followers of Ti Lung, and very few others. With a plot and characters this derivative, you'll be hard-pressed to remember seeing it not long after it is over. If you want to see this done right, rent the old Cagney flick, Angels with Dirty Faces, a film with a plot so similar, I can only think of this as a rip-off. It's also so relentlessly violent, the truest colors it shows us are black and blue.
© 2003 Vince Leo