The Story of a Discharged Prisoner

dir. Patrick Lung Kong

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Only recently being rediscovered, this tough-as-nails 1960s crime thriller served as the inspiration for John Woo's 1986 bullet-ballet opus A Better Tomorrow.

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Only recently being rediscovered, this tough-as-nails, black-and-white crime thriller from 1967 has had an enormous and lasting influence: it served as the basis for John Woo's 1986 bullet-ballet opus A Better Tomorrow, which made "heroic bloodshed" the new face of Hong Kong action cinema. Patrick Tse Yin stars as the eponymous ex-con Lee Cheuk-hung, who is released from prison after fifteen years to discover his fiancée has become the mistress of powerful triad boss One-Eyed Jack (Shek Kin, best known in the West as the villain in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon), who tries to recruit Lee into his gang; determined to stay on the straight and narrow, Lee refuses. But when the vengeful Jack starts putting the pressure on, the former foot soldier is forced to once again show that he has the "true colours of a hero" (as per the film's original title). Both a groundbreaking action melodrama (featuring fight choreography from legendary martial-arts master Lau Kar-leung's brother Lau Kar-wing) and a forceful, socially conscious portrait of the plight of the marginalized in a rapidly modernizing Hong Kong, The Story of a Discharged Prisoner is "[both] a damning critique [and] a call for hope ... [this] is filmmaking at its sharpest and most masterful" (South China Morning Post).