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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Taxi Hunter (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A mild-mannered office worker goes off the deep end and begins hunting and killing cab drivers after one impatient cabbie kills his pregnant wife.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Taxi Hunter is a Category III (roughly the equivalent of a US NC-17) Hong Kong crime thriller from 1993 starring Anthony Wong who is the “king of Cat III” films. Unlike many of the films given this rating in Hong Kong, there is not really much sex or nudity in director Herman Yau’s film, but it got the designation for its violent subject matter.

Coming right at a time when there was controversy in Hong Kong over the recklessness of cab drivers, Taxi Hunter blends elements of the films Falling Down and Taxi Driver (the opening phantom ride camera shot through the streets of Hong Kong is an obvious allusion to the opening of the latter) to tell the story of the mild mannered businessman Ah-Kin. Ah-Kin goes off the deep end when an impatient taxi driver kills his pregnant wife who is in labor, snagging her clothes in his car as he speeds away. He declares war on the entire industry and begins hunting and killing every taxi driver he meets. As the bodies pile up, his friend on the police force, assigned to catch the cabbie killer with a group of undercover cops, is hot on his trail.

There is not much exposition in this this film, but Yau gives the film a lot of atmosphere and kinetic energy, with come visceral set pieces that verge on slasher horror. Wong, puts in a nuanced performance, transforming from the meek and mild mannered white collar worker to the unhinged killer, à la Michael Douglas in Falling Down proving he is much more than just a body to fill space in the exploitative genre films.

  • Taxi Hunter (1993)
  • Anthony Wong in Txi Hunter (1993)
  • Taxi Hunter (88 Films_US88FB026)
  • Taxi Hunter (88 Films_US88FB026)

The Video

Taxi Hunter appears for the first time ever on Blu-ray from 88 Films in a 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodement. The 1993 production looks better than it ever has and has little in the way of source damage, but the granularity looks a little harsh, noisy, and not as natural as I would like to see it. Otherwise, the detail is there, but the darker scenes do lose a little bit of shadow detail.

The Audio

The original Cantonese mono mix is included in LPCM 2.0. There is some audible clipping, but it provides a generally acceptable amount of clarity and dynamics.

The Supplements

88 Films includes a balanced amount of on-disc bonus features and their usual tchotchkes like dazzling artwork and poster. The audio commentary from the always well-informed Frank Djeng is a must-listen-to inclusion while it’s good to see the interviews with cast and crew, Anthony Wong in particular.

  • Audio Commentary with Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng
  • Hunting for Words (1080i; 00:28:45) – An interview with scriptwriter and producer Tony Leung Hung-wah
  • How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? (1080i; 00:27:06) – An interview with action director James Ha
  • Falling Down in Hong Kong (1080p; 00:17:57) – An interview with star Anthony Wong
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:03:51)
  • Stills Gallery (1080p)
  • Reversible cover art with new design by Sean Longmore and original Hong Kong art
  • Double-sided poster with new design by Sean Longmore and original Hong Kong art
  • Slipcover with brand new artwork by Season Longmore

The Final Assessment

Taxi Hunter is an odd mixture of B horror and atmospheric crime drama that somehow works to create an enjoyable film. The acting skills of the cast, the cinematography, and the direction make this a film that genre fans should appreciate and 88 Films serve it up in a collectible package that will look beautiful on the shelf.

Taxi Hunter (Special Edition) is out on Blu-ray August 29, 2023, from 88 Films.

  • Rating Certificate: HK: Category III
  • Studios & Distributors: Galaxy Films Ltd. | 88 Films
  • Director: Herman Yau
  • Written By: Lau Wing-Kin | Mak Kai-Chung
  • Run Time: 90 Mins.
  • Street Date: 8 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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A mild-mannered office worker goes off the deep end and begins hunting and killing cab drivers after one impatient cabbie kills his pregnant wife.Taxi Hunter (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)