In Mandarin with Chinese and English Subtitles
Director: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Cast: Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Zhang Jingchu, Alex Fong, Michael Wong, Stephen Au, Sharon Luk, Queenie Chu, Henry Fong, Lok Ying Kwan, Lam Kar Wah, Waise Lee, William Chan
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & InnoForm Media
Opening Day: 30 July 2009
A major stock exchange in the world, Hong Kong attracts not only money but also many who try to manipulate the market. At the Hong Kong Police Force Commercial Crime Bureau, an operation is under way against insider trading involving Feng Hua International, a listed company. A man nicknamed the “Boss” is behind it all, and identified as the chief suspect.
The interception team at the Criminal Intelligence Bureau is sent in. Led by Inspector Johnny Leung (by Lau Ching-wan), the team has veteran cop Gene Yeung (by Louis Koo) and the young rookie Max Lam (by Daniel Wu). They infiltrate Feng Hua International to install interception devices and start to monitor the company’s phone traffic.
A month goes by and nothing significant has been intercepted. The three are bored and morale is low when they overhear the management’s plan to boost the share price. As Gene and Max are desperately in need of money, Johnny unwillingly withholds this information from his supervisors. The two decide to make the most of this opportunity and buy heavily on the company’s shares with a huge sum of money borrowed from a loan shark. Johnny is furious when he learns this, but nothing can be done at this point to retrieve the money now locked up in the shares.
The share price of Feng Hua International has gone so high that trading is suspended. The three fail to retrieve the capital and are on the verge of turning against each other in face of the crisis. Meanwhile, Johnny catches a dispute in the company’s management. The Chairman, Ringo Low, is planning to sell high and cash out his shares; the other Board Directors decide to assassinate him in order to secure their interests. They seek help from the Boss.
Low’s life is at stake. However the trio is well aware that if he lives, the share price will plunge and not only their money, but their lives and even their families will be compromised. The three are torn between money, their future and justice. Finally, Johnny comes up with a perfect plan: to kidnap Low.
The abduction goes smoothly as planned. After what feels like the longest weekend in their lives, trading in Feng Hua International resumes and the price surges uncontrollably. Just when the three start to believe they have succeeded, the price plunges again. The unusual price fluctuations catch the attention of senior officials in the government and the Police Force, who have long been suspecting police involvement in the affair. The undercover operation is aborted; an investigation is ordered against the three cops – Johnny finds out about this as he counter-intercepts communication within the Bureau.
Until the day this reviewer can age gracefully
and look good smoking a cigarette while conversing with his
buddies on a high rise rooftop terrace, he would have to make
do with watching Hong Kong movies like this one, hoping that
he could one day become as suave as its leading men Lau Ching
Wan, Louis Koo or Daniel Wu. Yes, the Pearl of the Orient
has produced yet another movie to excite fans of Asian films,
and in this case, fans of Asian films featuring lots of rugged
male bonding. And here’s the good news: this latest
export from the makers team behind the acclaimed hits Infernal
Affairs (2002) and Protégé (2007) does not disappoint.
Already veterans in the crime thriller genre,
Felix Chong and Alan Mak write and direct Lau (Mad Detective,
My Name is Fame), Koo (All's Well, Ends Well 2009, Connected)
and Wu (Shinjuku Incident, Blood Brothers) in this intense
drama about a trio of police officers conduct surveillance
on a listed company. And what’s an intense drama without
some grey shades of human nature? In a moment of desperation
to salvage family poverty, the three of them become entangled
in a web of deceit which will culminate in a remarkable showdown
which involves car crashes, gun shootouts and lots of blood.
Nobody plays up human drama like the Hong
Kong filmmakers. It may be a case of cultural relevance: genres
like this appeal to Asian audiences because of their relevancies
and dramatic effects. Friendships, man and woman relationships,
parent and child relationships are all intricately explored
in this movie. The art of the filmmakers’ storytelling
is exemplified with the fine scriptwriting. There is quite
a lot of talking in this 100 minute movie, and the winning
dialogues between the characters reflect the identifiable
personalities and authentic human relationships which contemporary
viewers can relate to. A simple scene of the three male leads
conversing on a high rise rooftop terrace is a joy to watch,
simply because it is something we can envision ourselves doing.
Of course, the only difference here is, not
all of us have star appeal like Lau, Koo and Wu. The chemistry
between the three men is spot on, and they’d have audiences
believe that they are plagued by the various difficulties
in life. Lau effortlessly plays a forlorn man who has mellowed
with life over the years. Koo somewhat overacts with his increased
weight to portray a man who needs money to keep his family
together. Wu’s performance as an educated and polite
man is quietly assuring. These characters are familiar personalities
which we can connect with. The star studded movie is further
spiced up with other quality performances from supporting
roles played by Alex Fong (If You Are the One), Zhang Jingchu
(The Beast Stalker) and Michael Wong (Seven Swords). Expect
some acting nominations to come along during the awards season.
the unnecessarily melodramatic finale, the movie is still
a must watch for its high production values. Set against the
towering Hong Kong buildings, these range from an engaging
music score and a visually stunning cinematography to a stylish
editing style and a solid art direction. These complement
the story, which make us think, under this fine visual package,
the underlying message of the darkness that the human soul
is capable of is a poignant one.
must watch human drama that is poignantly affecting)
Review by John Li