Director: Daniel Lee
Starring: Sammo Hung, Michael Biehn, Simon
Yam, Vanness Wu, Huh Joon-ho, Maggie Q, Shawn Yue, Xia Yu, Eva
Huang, Li Bing Bing
Released By: GV
Date: 11 November 2005
A team of young Interpol agents arrive in Hong Kong to give
testimony at the trial of local crime lord ‘Tiger’
them are American agent Andy Hui (Derek Chou), Taiwanese lawman
Vanness Chang (Vanness Wu), mainland Chinese sharpshooter
Cheung (Derek Chou) and local cops Lok (Shawn Yue) and Suet
(Eva Huang). They are greeted by Hong Kong police commander
Hon Sun (Simon Yam).
heavily armed convoy taking Tiger to court is attacked by
a ruthless team of North Korean agents, led by international
terrorist Petros Davinci (Michael Biehn). Petros is seeking
revenge for his brother in arms, who was killed by Puma and
his brother, ‘Tiger’ Duen. At Petros’ side
is his fierce enforcer, the former Korean special forces officer
Ko (Huh Joon-ho) and a lethal lady sniper, Song (Maggie Q).
Tiger is snatched, the Interpol team insists on tracking down
Petros themselves. Hon Sun rejects their request and places
the team in the care of veteran police officer Kong Long (Sammo
burned out cop who has never come to terms with either his
personal or professional history, Long Kong is reluctant to
get involved. Finally, inspired by his young charges, he rises
to the occasion, and leads the Interpol team on their quest
for Petros and his team.
uses every available weapon, including Tiger Duen’s
girlfriend, Ching (Li Bing Bing), to outmaneuver his foes.
mean streets of Hong Kong form a backdrop for a battle of
wills, wits, and urban warfare.
Kong crime dramas were very popular during the 1980s. Classic
examples of this genre include John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow
(1987) and The Killer (1989). The suave assassins and cops,
coupled with the slow motion shootout scenes were a joy to
watch. In fact, this has become a culture on its own in Hong
would you introduce this winning formula to today’s
MTV generation then? Daniel Lee’s latest work attempts
to do that by putting together a mix of stylistic camerawork,
fancy editing and popular good-looking heartthrobs. However,
the very essence that makes old-school crime dramas so successful
is lost in this confused action thriller.
The plot is typical for a genre like this. Five young Interpol
agents arrive in Hong Kong to testify at the trial of local
crime lord. On the way to court, the crime lord gets attacked
by a team of merciless agents. Driven by grievances, the cold-blooded
agents will do anything to get revenge on the police and the
older brother of the crime lord.
The young and idealistic Interpol team insists on tracking
down these agents themselves, much to the disapproval of the
local police commander. Together with a world-weary veteran
police officer who is supposed to take care of the young lads,
urban warfare breaks out inevitably.
With so many characters, it is a wonderful opportunity to
showcase an international cast of eye candy. From Taiwan,
we have Vanness Wu, who has thankfully shaken off his boyband
image. From Hong Kong, we have the charismatic Shawn Yue,
fresh from Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Initial D (2005);
and the charming Huang Sheng Yi of Stephen Chow’s Kung
Fu (2004) fame.
The list does not end there. There is the acclaimed Xia Yu
from China, the award-winning Heo Jun-ho from Korea and even
Michael Biehn from America. As if that is not enough, the
movie also features many other recognizable faces like Li
Bingbing, Maggie Q and Isabella Leung.
With so many characters squeezed into 110 minutes, it is no
wonder the movie falls into the trap of not being able to
develop their personalities properly, resulting in one-dimensional
roles. Although the plot sounds decent enough, it is ultimately
let down by the movie’s storytelling.
Director Lee’s works include Black Mask (1996) starring
Jet Li and the most recent Star Runner (2003), which was incidentally
Wu’s first outing on the big screen. In his latest effort,
the director places too much emphasis on visuals and style,
neglecting the fact that a good crime drama should still engage
No doubt the camera work and editing are technically impressive,
but they are unfortunately overdone throughout the whole movie.
The grainy monochrome flashback scenes and the quick cuts
seem rather showy at times.
Also, the movie’s attempts at pseudo-philosophical lines
and voiceovers do not work as viewers do not feel enough for
the characters in the first place.
Do not shun this movie yet, because it is not without its
good moments. Old-school actors from the 1980s like Simon
Yam, Ken Tong and Ng Doi-yung may not have much screen time,
but they play their roles with such conviction that they easily
leave a better impression than their younger co-stars.
The movie’s greatest saving grace comes from Sammo Hung,
who plays the veteran police office with a burden to bear
from the past. The 53-year-old action star shows us what he
has still got in him.
Another action star from the 1980s, Chin Kar Lok, is in charge
of choreographing the action scenes. Viewers who grew up watching
older Hong Kong crime dramas will enjoy every moment of these
fight sequences because they have been done with a lot of
For the younger crowd, this movie may appeal in terms of its
fancy visuals and its attractive lineup of cool-looking cast.
For the more nostalgic crowd, it will be the veteran stars
and the old-school down-to-earth action sequences that will
draw them into the cinema.
old-school genre movie packaged with flashy post production
and eye candy to accommodate the younger crowd.)
by John Li