Director: David Lam
Cast: Louis Koo, Julian Cheung, Kevin Cheng, Jessica Hsuan, Bosco Wong, Rosyam Nor
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 31 December 2021
Synopsis: Luk (Louis Koo) and Ching (Kevin Cheng) were working on a Customs corruption case. They found out the case was linked to King, the leader of an international human trafficking group, which also involved Emma Pong (Jessica Hsuan), the Chief Justice of South East Asia. Luk and Ching, together with Chief Inspector Lau Po-keung (Julian Cheung), were determined to bring King to justice.
We’d be honest that we had never thought after watching ‘Z Storm’ that it would spawn a franchise that now spans four sequels, and yet here we are with ‘G Storm’, touted as the concluding chapter after a seven-year run. As with the earlier movies, this latest is anchored by ICAC Special Investigator William Luk (Louis Koo), who finds himself going up against a ruthless gang of human traffickers bent on assassinating a chief justice Emma Pong (Jessica Hsuan) intent on exposing their misdeeds.
Besides Luk, other characters which return for the sequel include Chief Inspector Lau Po-keung (Julian Cheung), ICAC inspector Ching Tak-ming (Kevin Cheng) and fellow-inmate-turned-informer Wong Lam-luk (Louis Cheung). It’s as packed an ensemble as it gets, what with new characters such as Tak-ming’s half-brother Fei-hung (Bosco Wong), former drug lord-turned-terrorist leader King (Malaysian actor Rosyam Nor), and the enigmatic criminal mastermind Siu Cheuk-ah (Michael Tse) added to the fray.
Those who have seen any of the earlier four movies will know that they are primarily plot- than character-driven, and with director David Lam and writer Wong Ho-wah back at the helm, ‘G Storm’ is no different. Opening with a skyline of Singapore’s Central Business District with the intertitle of “somewhere in a Southeast Asian city”, the movie wastes no time in embroiling the fates of Luk and Judge Pong, when the latter is targeted by a suicide bomber and other gunmen at the fictional Pan-Asia Convention Against Corruption and is saved by the former.
Back in Hong Kong, Ching and other ICAC colleagues have been tracking the activities of businessman Kwong Yat-long (the late and great Liu Kai Chi). Whether out of expediency or sheer laziness, Luk immediately links what happened back in “Singapore” to Kwong, and after tailing him from the Western District Public Cargo Working Area to a warehouse, the ICAC team discover following a brief shootout a container packed with girls abducted from their villages along the Thai-Burmese border. It so happens too that Judge Pong has arrived in Hong Kong under a guest speaking invitation at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, setting the stage for Hong Kong to be the focus of criminal and terrorist activity.
Not unlike the earlier movies, the plotting is as straightforward as it gets. Lau is assigned to protect Judge Pong during her time in Hong Kong, and has to weather not one but two further attempts by King and his men at eliminating her. While Lau is busy with Judge Pong, Luk tries to uncover Siu’s links to the smuggling as well as to King, inadvertently endangering those to whom he is close to. Oh yes, it unfolds like a procedural, though not with the kind of attention of detail you would expect of good police work.
Those looking for some good old Hong Kong cops-and-robbers action will also be disappointed. Despite touting itself as the most action-packed instalment, and with veteran Li Chung-chi as action director, the shoot-outs and vehicular chases are largely humdrum. The only consolation is that the finale does end on a series high, with an extended climactic sequence which wraps a hostage/ bomb disposal situation, a tense gunfight along the corridors of the famed Hong Kong Cultural Centre and a closed-door firefight within the dome theatre of the neighbouring Hong Kong Space Museum. That said, it is frustrating that Lam hasn’t gotten any better at shooting the action in his ‘Storm’ movies after four equally middling chapters.
Indeed, ‘G Storm’ is as mediocre as ‘Z Storm’, and a good reminder therefore of why we had never expected that Koo would go on to reprise his role as the fictional ICAC Special Investigator William Luk in four subsequent thematically related sequels. It’s equally surprising that Lam and his stalwart producer Raymond Wong has been able to attract such a stellar cast for such an underwhelming effort, especially given how little each one of the individual members is given to work with in the movie. Now that the franchise has officially come to a close, we hope Koo, Cheung (both Julian and Louis), Cheng, Hsuan and Tse will find much more compelling material worthy of their considerable talents.
(Except for its climax, this anti-corruption procedural is as middling and as unexceptional as the other four 'Storm' instalments which have come before it)
Review by Gabriel Chong