VR Fighter / One More Shot (2021) by Tang Qiao Jia

Best known for his ultra-violent, splashy prison cult classic “Riki-Oh: Ricky’s Story” and his portrayal of the arrogant Northern martial artist who challenged the Wing Chun master in “Ip Man” and after appearing in other kung fu movies, Louis Fan Siu Wong has all but disappeared from the overall Hong Kong action scene. Nevertheless, it has been busy making movies online in China since, thanks to the advancement of smartphones and 5G technology and like a cultural revolution, the phenomenon of online movie business is flourishing in China as if it never there was no tomorrow. These are usually short, throwaway productions that are watched by anyone on the phone or tablets and anywhere the internet is at hand.

In his latest outing, Fan plays the leader of a team of professional bodyguards, Lung Wei, tasked with protecting a foreign businessman. As expected, they suffered an attack in which none of its members survived. While recovering at home from his injury, his adversary shows up with a time bomb that killed his wife and seriously injured their daughter. In order to take care of her, they move to another town where he works as a handyman while keeping a low profile. One night, while working in a bar, he saves a woman, Amy (Jiang Yi Yi) from being raped. In return, she offers him a position as a virtual reality operator in her company which manufactures high-tech exoskeletons. However, during his audition, a group of terrorists quickly show up to steal the highly sourced suit technology; Needless to say, it’s now up to Lung Wei to be a hero and save the day.

What really sets this web production apart is the incredibly well choreographed action piece at the opening. While unoriginal, the shootouts are bloody and violent and the melee combat is equally brutal. Aside from the obviously low-budget CGI effects, director Tang Qiao Jia and action choreographer Tang Hu have managed to generate a solid and thrilling action sequence that’s entertaining to watch. As a result, the inevitable climatic ending brawl between Lung Wei and the extremist-in-chief, which is unfortunately quite repetitive, pales in comparison, although there is a nice little twist there. Interestingly and although sometimes unintelligible, most of the dialogue is in English.

In any case, Louis Fan Siu Wong is amazing and compelling as the fast and furious kung fu bodyguard Lung Wei. Let’s face it, we’re here primarily to see him kick some ass and he certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department. Another highlight is the first-person fight scene where he faces numerous antagonists during his VR audition. Shot like a video game, this sequence is also similar to that of “The Villainess”.

Beijing-born actress Jiang Yi Yi provides good support as Amy, the scientist who recruits and shines Lung, while also providing the film’s foodie breaks and some melodramatic parts. As for the rest of the supporting cast, they’re mostly regulars in the local online movie world. Wang Zhi Peng appears in a memorable role as Ni Kun, the cruel and slimy leader of the terrorist group, while Song Zi Qiao briefly appears as Ke Xin, the loving but tragic wife of Lung Wei.

With a quick runtime of just eighty minutes not counting the credits, “One More Shot” renamed “VR Fighter” is a lean and fast act that sets out to appeal to a certain audience and passes with flying colors. Although it lacks any real tension in the overall execution, the frenetic camera work is both fluid and full of energy. Besides, this is undoubtedly Louis Fan’s best web release yet, which comes with a dash of old-school Hong Kong action and is very entertaining.

Kimberly B. Nguyen