Director: Yeun Cheung Yan
Starring: Simon Yam, Hwang Jang Lee, Lau Ching Wan, Kim Maree Penn, Elaine Liu, Eddie Ko
Despite the title, this ultra rarity is not a tongue in cheek spoof of 'Die Hard'. Rather, it is a fairly solid entry from the waning years of Hong Kong's modern day action cycle.
Hong Kong cop, Hui (Simon Yam) is investigating a band of terrorists who killed the son of a high ranking official, but finds his progress constantly impeded by his superior. Meanwhile, a top undercover unit is maneuvering to quickly find out exactly who the next target is before it's too late. Hui manages to capture the perceived ringleader named Ironman (Eddie Ko), but he is promptly released and Hui finds himself suspended (Ironman as it turns out, was a member of the special unit working undercover). Undaunted, he carries on his investigation, befriending an American reporter (Kim Maree Penn) for info, not realizing she is in fact the head of the terrorist organization...
The story is pretty generic and the script is a purely going by the numbers affair with little character development and somewhat of a laxed buildup to the action scenes. What makes 'Live Hard such a treat is the high quality of the action itself and it's large cast of notable actors and fighters. In an early role, Simon Yam already has charisma to spare, even if his role is so underdeveloped. As the head of the undercover unit, Hwang Jang Lee (in one of his last roles) gets to show off his supreme kicks in several fight scenes, showing no signs of aging. This is a good role for the Korean superkicker, one that should make his fans mucho happy. Genre fave Elaine Liu plays a member of Hwang's squad and unfortunately does not have a whole lot to do until the finale. I for one would have liked to have seen her role expanded a bit. Making her debut, Austrailain Karate expert Kim Marie Penn definately leaves an impression. Her acting was nothing to write home about, but she really lets it rip when the fists and feet start flying. Her final reel smackdown vs Hwang is a real eye opener. In fact the entire special unit vs terrorists finale is filled to the brim with some outstanding fights and stuntwork. US Karate champion Farley Ruth Kordica is memorable for her considerable skills and freakishly scary looks. The only other role she appeared in was 'The Witness' (aka In the Line of Duty 4) where she gets an intense one on one with Cynthia Khan. Ever reliable Mark Houghton has a brief early appearance in the dubbed export version only as a target of the terrorists.
While it is lacking in character buildup (it plays almost as if it's first reel is missing), 'Live Hard' with it's hard hitting action and rewindable finale makes for good fun for the 80's action enthusiast.