LING Kwong is a 40 year old, self-assured Chief Inspector of Police. He solved numerous difficult cases on his own, has a flawless track record, and is soon to be promoted to Superintendent of Police. Everyone sees him as the future head of the Hong Kong Police Force. Ling has a perfect family – a beautiful, gentle wife, a charming son and a posh lifestyle. His perfect life takes an abrupt turn when he wakes up after fainting in a dilapidated building, on one of his operations. e wakes to discover his short term memory damaged, and is more shocked to find his best colleague killed in the same building! At the height of his life, Ling encounters this most vicious murder throughout Hong Kong’s crime history. To avenge his friend’s death, Ling sift through the clues of the murders, he finds that all the evidences are pointing toward himself as the murderer! Ling is being pushed to the edge of madness! Is he really the murderer - or not?
Before donning that flowing cape in the Pang Brothers’ The Storm Warriors II, Aaron Kwok starred in this movie which was supposedly to get him another acting nomination during the awards season. After all, he began proving to the critics that he could actually emote and act after his Golden Horse wins for Divergence (2005) and After This Our Exile (2006). Was the Heavenly King hoping to hit turkey by peering scarily behind a wall on the DVD cover? Was the pop singer hoping to prove to the jury that he can convincingly play a psychopath? Was the good looker hoping to beef up his resume by teaming up with the producer of Lust, Caution (2007) William Kong, the screenwriter of Fearless (2006) To Ching Long, the cinematographer of In the Mood for Love (2000) Lee Pin Bing and the composer of Curse of the Golden Flower (2006) Shigeru Umebayashi?
That’s quite a bit of name dropping, if you ask us. Which is why, we were expecting something impressive from this collaboration. But alas, the result wasn’t quite what we expected.
In a nutshell, this movie has Kwok plays a detective who is framed for a series of gruesome murders. What he goes through psychologically in the 120 minute picture may remind you of David Fincher’s contemporary classic Seven (1995), but this laughable Hong Kong production (we noticed that Focus Features has a hand in this too – why?) will go down motion picture history as one of the most ludicrous ever.
Without writing too much to reveal the “plot twist”, let’s just say that the writers did mean well to have that intention of intriguing audiences with a plot so twisted, you can only imagine it happening only in movies. But when you begin to realise that the filmmakers are actually serious about what they are trying to relay, you can’t help but snigger and roll your eyes in disbelief. The character in question will make you chuckle for the wrong reason, that’s about all we can say here.
The frustration grows when you realise that the production values aren’t actually too bad. Impressive cinematography, flashy editing, catchy soundtrack – the most important element missing to make this a success is the story. Furthermore, to see Kwok overacting during the latter half of the movie is just, well, too much for us to take.
The actors featured in this movie include Hong Kong’s respectable names like Chen Kuan Tai, Chin Kar Lok, Wong Yau Nam and Josie Ho. We can only imagine that they agreed to be part of this project because of the promising premise the concept had on paper. When things got out of hand during production, everyone could only play along, and hope that no one would notice the mess that was happening. Too bad, people – this Roy Chow directed debut would be mocked at years down the road.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD includes a 25 minute The Making Of (in Cantonese without subtitles), where you’d see Kwok taking his role seriously, doing research interviews with real life senior police officers. There is also a Trailer included, with theatrical promos for movies like Treasure Hunter and The Storm Warriors II.
There is nothing to complain about the movie’s visual transfer. However, the Mandarin audio track is a pain to listen to, especially when the “plot twist” happens.
by John Li
Posted on 21 December 2009