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  Publicity Stills of "Eye In The Sky"
Courtesy of Shaw

Genre: Drama/Crime
Director: Yau Nai Hoi
Starring: Tony Leung Ka Fai, Simon Yam, Kate Tsui
RunTime: -
Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.eyeinthesky.com.hk

Opening Day: 21 June 2007


Surveillance, translated as “eye in the sky” It means “to follow” and to “keep careful watch” as if you had “an eye in the sky”.

Team leader, Simon Yam (Wong Man Ching) and his men, including newcomer Kate Tsui (Ho Kai-bo), have a gang of jewelry shop robbers under close surveillance. Tony Leung (Chang Chong Shan), a seasoned criminal with the strong instinct of the hunted, escapes captures and sabotage police swoops umpteen times. It’s as if he too had an eye in the sky on his enemy’s movements.

But, the net is closing in and Chan is now under Wong’s surveillance. Chan, a master of concealment and Wong, an expert at camouflaging. A game of cat –and–mouse. Who can outsmart the enemy and gain final victory?

Movie Review:

Hong Kong’s cop genre movies are often limited to either undercover tales or the explosive SDU and they are pretty much done to death in recent years. Although there are many more departments other than these two, there are far too few films that dare to venture into what these other police departments got to offer.

Eye in the Sky is a refreshing approach on cop movies as it shift it’s focus from the usual recycled material on Hong Kong cops (so recycled that even Hollywood copied from them) to a lesser known and definitely more low key division in the entire police force.

The Surveillance team follows their target relentlessly and yet anonymously. They set up for the big boys (such as the Special Tactical Unit) for the final payout while they fade away from getting any credits. Their job is as risky those involve with the major firearms but yet they seldom receive the credit that they are due for. There lies part of the reason why this department wasn’t ever featured in a movie of their own.

Simply that their duties, although dangerous, is simply not as exciting or explosive compared to those in the special task force nor does it has the seediness of the undercover blues. In short, it can get quite boring watching surveillance at work (that is unless you have an unhealthy interest in stalking).

That’s ultimately both the strongest and weakest point of this movie as on one hand, it stays as true to that area of expertise, providing interesting tactical operations but it also bring out the boringness of keeping tab on someone. Another trivial nuisance about this movie is how they indicate who the agents are by presenting these agents who are staring at their target personals’ movement. While this is to allow the audience to be aware of the agents’ presence, it felt rather absurd that any field agent would stare straight into their targets at all.

However, all the woes of Eye in the Sky were alleviated by the fine performance of the two Hong Kong veterans, Tony Leung and Simon Yam. Some of their cloak and dagger play against each other bear resemble of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s tension filled cat and mouse game in Michael Mann’s Heat. Once again, they prove that they could convince the audience easily that they are on the top of their expertise effortlessly and it’s definitely intriguing to watch how they try to outmatch each other.

Newcomer Kate Tsui’s performance on the other hand felt rather uneventful. Eye in the Sky marks her debut in movies and for most non Hong Kong residents, they might be wondering what her talents might be that helped her land such a meaty role among the veterans (fyi: She was a Miss Hong Kong back in 2004). Her appearance and on screen charisma felt that she was more suited to a supporting role, instead of a leading one but strategically placed, her weakness as a newbie is played to her advantage as her rawness both as an actress and character became effective in driving her “coming of age” story.

This feature also marks the directing debut of Johnny To’s writing partner Yau Nai Hoi. Perhaps it’s their partnership, the Johnny To’s trademark in films are evidently felt in this movie. If you are unaware of the fact that he didn’t direct this one, you might have assumed it was one of his films. As far as a first timer goes, to score a standard like this veteran, it’s pretty impressive and definitely one to watch out for.

If you enjoyed films like PTU (Police Tactical Unit, a Johnnie To film about the uniformed street walking cops) but preferred that it wasn’t overwhelming overdose with series of coincident events, Eye in the Sky will provide the right fix for a refreshing change to the tired cop genre film in Hong Kong while staying true to their subject.

Movie Rating:

(Eye in the Sky breathes new life to the tired Hong Kong cop genre type of films)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


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