Director: Danny Pang
Cast: Wallace Chung, Francis Ng, Eddie Cheung, Myolie Wu, Lily Ji Li, Cheung Kwok-Keung, Zhao Yan-Guo Zhang, Samuel K, Wang Ke-Ru, Zhou Kai
Runtime: 1 hr 38 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Violence and Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 2 November 2023
Synopsis: Kwan Chit (Francis Ng) and his girlfriend travelled to Thailand. During the trip, she got violated by the Thai king of gamblers, Kunkka, and died. Kwan Chit hid the truth from her brother and his best friend, Man Fung (Wallace Chung). A few years later, Kwan Chit decided it was time to start his revenge plan and looked for Man Fung. The two friends agreed to revenge for their beloved one together.
Danny Pang might be a big fan of Hideo Kojima’s playstation videogame, Death Stranding that his latest movie is shamelessly named after it. As a tribute or a cheap marketing gimmick, the title might be the only memorable thing we can remember after watching Pang’s uneventful and soulless venture.
Set in a fictional country named “Tiger City”, one of the local triad kings, Fourth Master (Eddie Cheung) is busy working behind-the-scenes trying to overhaul his illegal business and getting it ready once the government opened up the entertainment industry. His partner is none other than the Thai King of gamblers, Kunkka, a lecherous maniac who can easily transfer a container load of money as a gift for the Fourth Master.
In the meantime, Officer Jiang (Wallace Chung) is investigating the notorious Fourth Master, the guy who might be responsible for the death of his sister years back and has also married his ex-girlfriend played by ex-TVB actress Myolie Wu. Coincidentally, the current director of the commercial investigative department, Zuo (Francis Ng) happens to be the boyfriend of Jiang’s sister and surprisingly, he is also working alongside the Fourth Master.
As it turns out, Death Stranding is an embarrassing piece of unnecessary convoluted piece of writing. Pang who also co-wrote the effort tries every means and ways to inject elements of mystery and intrigue into the whole affair. But alas, all the talking, killing and betrayal (mainly carried out by Fourth Master’s minions) is a chore to even follow through.
The first act established the ruthlessness of Fourth Master which showcased the chairman of the marketing association being murdered and his subsequent replacement being sent to jail because he was getting greedy. And instead of making Zuo as an informer to Jiang or some sort of partner collaborating to bring Fourth Master down, Zuo for no reason works as his accomplice. That is until the finale when he found out the real reason how his girlfriend died that he decides to team up with Jiang to take on the Fourth Master and Kunkka in an airport no less.
With a story that is built on such shaky ground, there is little to expect from the always reliable Francis Ng and veteran Eddie Cheung. Ng’s role is basically a glorified cameo with almost zilch acting skill require from him. Cheung’s character is supposedly a bad, despicable man though he didn’t bring much bad-assness to the role except constantly smoking cigar. Wallace Chung’s last memorable onscreen role was in Three and he still looks decent enough to carry a movie. As expected, Myolie Wu is yet another recognisable HK actress making a decent paycheck in a short span of screentime.
Even the handful of action sequences are poorly handled with lame, unengaging gunfights and laughingly action choreography. Pang of course is no John Woo and Johnnie To when it comes to dramatic and frenetic gun play and that’s where a capable experienced action choreographer comes in handy. Unfortunately, there’s no budget for it I guess so Death Stranding ends up being a forgettable actioner of the week and a superb waste of time and life. Pang has been busy doing smaller-scale internet movies in Mainland China for a while and probably its best for everyone he should continue stick to it. Or maybe it’s time for Danny and Oxide to unite together.
Come to think of it, maybe not.
(A poorly, cheaply constructed TV-like revenge actioner that fails on every aspect)
Review by Linus Tee