Proud and Confident

Reviewed by YTSL

For those who have viewed their share of Hong Kong films plus Hollywood fare, this 1989 action offering out of “the Eastern Hollywood” is likely to instill a sense of deja vu.  For one thing, it has at least one scene in which Andy Lau is clad in a sparkling white singlet (sleeveless undershirt).  Other visions involving the Lee King Chue helmed work’s lead actor that should be familiar to Jade Theatre fans are those that have him scrounging up his face in order to look emotionally tormented as well as in the kind of tight fitting trousers that can make one fear that he’s fated to have an ultra low sperm count.

On a less trivial note, and despite its focusing on essentially ground-based forces, PROUD AND CONFIDENT also possesses a lot of elements that make it come across as an Asian version of “Top Gun” (rather than just a pioneering “Best of the Best” themed effort).  E.g., its focus on a group of mainly young men (including, in this case, Dick Wei’s impressively built “Popeye” and Francis Ng’s largely unsmiling “He-Man” characters) who are: reckoned to be the cream of their particular uniformed body’s crop; brought to be trained to become a really crack unit (chiefly by David Lam Wai’s commanding Chiu character); and get involved in situations whereby they are called to protect less physically able others as well as prove themselves.
Andy Lau and Lam Wai
Also, although Andy Lau’s at least initially overly cocky Inspector Wah character is a police officer rather than a navy pilot, there is little question that he was modeled after Tom Cruise’s ‘Maverick’ character.  And while there isn’t really a true equivalent in PROUD AND CONFIDENT to Val Kilmer’s ‘Iceman’ for its sharp-shooting specialist protagonist to feel a burning need to individually out do in training and beyond, he does get provided with: a faithful best buddy (in Miu Kiu Wai’s character -- a family man who shares the same personal name as the actor who played him) who should bring to mind the married ‘Goose’ Bradshaw character in the 1986 hit movie; and also a course instructor turned romantic interest (Rosamund Kwan’s Chief Inspector Jennifer Tang had initially looked like she would have a bigger role than Kelly McGillis had had but, to my disappointment, turned out to not have a truly significant part to play in this testosterone packed offering).
Eddie Maher, Miu Kiu Wai and Dick Wei
If one can leave aside all this derivatively together with the plot predictability that they engender, however, PROUD AND CONFIDENT is capable of being at least watchable and actually exciting in parts.  One reason for this is that it does have its share of action scenes.  And it definitely helps that they constitute a pretty wide range -- from an appetite whetting one involving child hostages and a madman who seems to think that he’s the Monkey King (played by Peter Chan Lung) all the way to pitched gun battles that look to be among the closest thing to military combat that will be seen in a movie that’s set in late twentieth century Hong Kong.
Rosamund Kwan and Andy
IMHO, there also is some entertainment to be derived from seeing what inadvertently as well as consciously localizing details this film’s makers came up with to situate this parable against over-confidence -- that nonetheless emphasizes the need for people to take pride in their work, selves plus chosen peer group -- in their home territory.  Relatedly, this (re)viewer couldn’t help but notice with some retrospective interest how openly this pre-Handover offering was apt to wear its native community’s then contemporary concerns about what the future would bring on its sleeve (And likewise re its xenophobia -- since the main enemy force in PROUD AND CONFIDENT wasn’t only an international crime syndicate but also one that looks to have an English-speaking “gweilo” head (Eddie Maher) as well as was otherwise composed of Vietnamese former soldiers at that).
Francis Ng and Lam Suet(?)

My rating for the film: 6.5