This film is tough. Sammo has taken the idea that "bad things happen to good people" and stretched it to its limit. Kill everybody at the end (instead of mostly everybody), rewrite the script into blank verse and you’ve got the makings of a new Shakespearean tragedy. This isn’t to say the film isn’t fun. It is (and so are parts of Hamlet for that matter), there are some very funny and creative bits, the fight scenes are excellent and the cast is charming. All of this doesn’t hide the fact that much of the film serves as a funnel, channeling the characters toward tragedy.
The tragic elements in the film revolve around a relationship that forms between pedicab driver Max Mok and one of his fares. She is a rather charming and lovely young lady played by Fennie Yuen. She is also, unbeknownst to Mok, a prostitute. This little hitch is enough to set them on a downward spiral that threatens to take them ALL, (Sammo, the couple, everybody) down for the count. The real problem lies with the owner of the brothel at which she is "employed". He is the wickedly evil local crime boss and, as you can imagine, he doesn’t take kindly to losing employees. He decides to teach the offending couple a lesson, a brutal lesson … on their wedding night. All that’s left after this "message" is delivered is a burning desire for revenge. That revenge soon comes, in the package of the satisfyingly brutal finale.
The finale, which features as its centerpiece a bloody mess of a fight between Sammo and Billy Chow, is the cinematic equivalent of a shovel to the groin. Sammo and Meng Hoi are all about kicking ass in this reel. The fights aren’t as clever as the two earlier sequences in the film, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with the wonderful power of revenge. Don’t misunderstand, the other fight scenes are spectacular (especially the classic battle between Lau Kar Leung and Sammo), but it is the ending that makes this movie satisfying. Sammo’s patented black eye and fat lip (he must be able to do that particular makeup job himself, considering how often he wears it) are a welcome sight as he stands victoriously amongst the kung fu carnage.
All in all, Pedicab Driver is a damn fine movie. It offers a little bit of everything and hits on its offerings more than it misses. Pedicab Driver is another one that goes in the plus column for Sammo.
Originally published on DrunkenFist.com in 2000.