Stills of "Connected"
(Courtesy of Shaw)
Genre: Action/Thriller Director: Benny Chan Cast: Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, Nick Cheung, Liu
Ye, Flora Chan RunTime:
1 hr 50 mins Released By: Shaw, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures
& Scorpio East Rating: PG Official Website:http://connected.emp.hk/
Opening Day: 1 October 2008
Bob’s life isn’t going well at all. A single father
in a dead-end job as a debt collector, he’s trapped
in a job that goes against his usual easy-going helpful nature
and he’s under tremendous pressure to be a better dad,
a better brother, a better worker, even a better person. While
dealing with all this and his sister’s threat to move
to Australia with his son to force him to clean up his act,
Bob receives a call out of the blue. It’s a stranger
called Grace who claims a mysterious kidnapper is keeping
her against her will and begs him to save her and her young
daughter. Is it just a prank? The detective he tried reporting
the call to seem to think so but Bob’s instincts tell
him that he may just be the only thing standing between them
and a painful death. But does he have the mettle to rise above
his own self-centered concerns and risk everything –
including his own son – for two people he has never
met and who may not even exist?
Connected belongs to that rare class of remakes that not only
equals its predecessor, but in fact surpasses it.
To be sure, however, the Hollywood original “Cellular”
on which it is based, was at best a mildly entertaining affair.
The best thing that it had going for it was its high-concept
central conceit- that of two strangers linked by only a phone
call, which was simultaneously the only lifeline of one of
them, held hostage for reasons unknown to her.
Benny Chan’s latest transports this concept to the bustling
metropolis of Hong Kong, and has in the meantime, opted for
a change of characters, as well as a more believable story
arc. Here, Chris Evans’ beach bum slacker character
is replaced by Bob (played by Louis Koo), who appears to be
your average working adult.
But Bob is in fact a debt collector, and in an early scene,
dressed in a shirt, suit and pants, he is seen clutching his
briefcase watching haplessly as a gang of ruffians threaten
a mother and her two young children to pay up their family’s
debt. The man has a conscience, and thus the necessities of
his job make him feel uncomfortable.
Also a single father, Bob is struggling to keep up his responsibilities
to his son. The same day his son is due to leave for Australia,
Bob gets the phone call from a certain Grace Wong, claiming
that she has been kidnapped and needs his help desperately.
Can his conscience allow him to ignore her pleas for help?
Of course not, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.
Therein however lies a major weakness of “Cellular”,
which Benny Chan, who also co-wrote the adaptation, has duly
addressed in “Connected”. Why should one believe
a stranger and subsequently risk his life to save her? Well,
Chan sets Bob up as the kind of person who would help, and
simultaneously also sets up a chain of events that would convince
Bob that Grace is no impostor.
Connected also represents a slight departure for the director
whose name is synonymous with big-budget action movies through
his resume of hits that include Gen X Cops, Divergence and
New Police Story. For one, there are fewer action setpieces
here than one would expect from a Benny Chan film. Aware that
Bob is no action hero, Chan instead chooses to ratchet up
the tension (and add in some well-placed humour) as time runs
out for both Grace and Bob.
Chan has also toned down the histrionics which were arguably
the most painful parts of his previous two movies Rob B Hood
and Invisible Target. While Bob’s single father character
is mined for drama, it is never excessive and in fact comes
across as surprisingly affecting.
A huge reason for this lies in his charismatic star Louis
Koo. Koo turns in a fine performance as the non-hero thrust
into a situation that calls on every ounce of his courageous
instincts. With the foreknowledge that Koo chose to perform
many of the stunts by himself, including jumping out of a
car perched precipitously on the edge of a cliff, his portrayal
of Bob indeed feels convincing.
What is also worth mentioning is French composer Nicholas
Errera’s score for the movie. Better known for his compositions
on French movies, his score helps build up the atmosphere
for each of the scenes in Connected very nicely.
Billed as the first Chinese remake of a Hollywood blockbuster,
Connected shows that if Hollywood can do Asia, so can Asia
take on Hollywood. It takes what Hollywood has done and gives
it a distinct Hong Kong flair to it- most evident from its
far superior action. The result of which is every bit as sleek
and engaging as the original, and in fact even more so.
(Remakes don’t always have to pale in comparison,
and Connected is one example that shines in its own right)