In Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Director: Dante Lam
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung, Zhang Jing
Chu, Liu Kai-Chi, Sherman Chung, Miao Pu
1 hr 50 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Opening Day: 4 December 2008
A traffic accident changed their lives forever. In capturing
wanted criminal Cheung Yat-tung, Sergeant Tong Fei was involved
in a gunfight and car accident that put the criminal in a
coma. But in the process he also crippled an fellow officer,
and mistakenly shot dead the elder daughter of public prosecutor
and single mother Ann Ko. Unable to handle the guilt, Tong
Fei succumbs to a fog of pain. Ann Ko, meanwhile, pours all
her love and attention to her younger daughter Ling.
months later, the criminal Cheung Yat-tung awakens from his
coma. Ann Ko, who had been working hard on bringing him to
justice, insists he stand trial immediately. Professional
killer Hung King completes his assignment of kidnapping Ann
Ko's daughter Ling. Tong Fei attempts to cut him off, but
fails to stop Hung King or to rescue the girl. Soon, Ann Ko
gets a phone call, telling her that if she wants to see Ling
again, she will drop all charges against Cheung Yat-tung.
And if she goes to the police, they will kill Ling.
Fei swears that he will rescue Ling, seeking to redeem himself
from his past mistake. With assistance from a former colleague
fondly known as Master Sun, Tong Fei gradually comes closer
to locating Hung King's hideout, but the most important clue
is the information in Ann Ko's cell phone. However, Ann Ko
hates him so much that she refuses to let him have anything
to do with the case. Tong Fei has no choice but to beg for
help from former co-workers with whom he did not get along.
Ko is backed into a corner, but she is determined to refuse
help from Tong Fei. In a misguided attempt to save Ling's
life, Ann Ko steals the case files.
No thanks to the Edison Chen scandal, director Dante Lam's
Sniper remains in limbo, waiting for a release date. Meanwhile,
he has moved on and worked with the producers of Connected
to present Beast Stalker starring the indirect victim of the
infamous incident, actor Nicholas Tse, in his first theatrical
outing since Invisible Target.
Scandalous talk aside, this is essentially his vehicle to
shine in, after sharing the limelight with the likes of Jaycee
Chan, Shawn Yue and Wu Jing in his previous movie. And in
the role as pained cop Tong Fei, he's given ample opportunity
to tone down on the brawn department, and to showcase his
dramatic chops, which he exploits perfectly to bring out extreme
emotional pain belonging a cop ridden with guilt from a bust
gone awry, swinging from the other spectrum of someone who
doesn't think twice in subjecting his subordinates to the
hair-dryer effect, before having to eat humble pie.
In fact, this movie had almost all its characters scarred
physically to varying degrees on the face, and everyone carries
with them emotional scars, courtesy of a fateful traffic accident
which changed all their lives. Some may also find dissatisfaction
from the plot being hinged on too convenient an event, but
such is it for you to buy into, so don't worry too much about
it, and enjoy how celluloid accidents these days have to up
the ante by filming from within the crashed/crashing vehicle.
Those who are looking for action after catching a glimpse
of that spectacular crash sequence seen in the trailer might
be a tad disappointed, that you can count the number of chases
and fisticuffs with one hand, and as mentioned, is more of
a dramatic piece than to flex those muscles. Even the finale
was a little uninspiring, and too long drawn given an extended
moment of grief. Don't expect some big-bang duke-out between
hero and villain, despite Tse's brandishing of a pretty mean
looking knuckle duster which goes unused, and such a waste.
And it seems the ghosts of the relatively successful Connected
isn't exorcised fully yet, as the story still has mobile phones
being very intricately tied to the plot, and it does have
to do with kidnapping too, to further the villains' objective.
Even Nick Cheung returns, but crossing to the other side of
the fence as a hitman for hire, a character who is given plenty
of sympathy that you find it hard to chastise his villainous
turn, given the bad hand Fate dealt to him and his wife, bedridden
and in need of his support to tide them through some extreme
hard times given the lack of stable income, and mounting medical
bills. By the time the finale rolls around with the final
hand from Fate, you're likely to have pity tugging at your
heartstrings, since it rang loudly how the down and trodden
aren't given much choice when exploited by the richer "godfather"
types to perform their dirty-work.
Despite its flaws, Beast Stalker still remains an interesting
thriller that hinged on the effective dynamics between the
two leads in a cat-and-mouse game of one up-manship. It doesn't
walk on black and white, but more often treads on the gray
areas. Supporting characters though are a bit of a mixed bag,
with Liu Kai-Chi given the meatier role of sidekick to Nicholas
Tse, and brings to the table some stable veteran performance.
Zhang Jing Chu though has to shake off her flower vase stereotype,
and her lawyer role here doesn't really help as she played
the distressed mother more so than legal top gun. Sherman
Chung had to do a lot to express emotion through the eyes
of a bedridden person, and just got no more than 5 minutes
to flesh out the back story of her character.
There were some flashes of brilliance around, and some tension-filled
moments to keep you at the edge of your seat - the scene where
Tong Fei approaches the villains' crashed vehicle, that looks
like a first-person shoot-em-up computer game was beautiful.
However, the entire movie felt like it could've been saved
with some twenty minutes shorn off to keep the pacing tight.
Nonetheless for fans of Nicholas Tse, this is a must-watch
to see your idol give one of his better cinematic performances
in recent times.
(This Beast should have bore its fangs and sharpened
its claws more to become a crime-thriller classic)
Review by Stefan Shih