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  Publicity Stills of "The Beast Stalker"
(Courtesy of GV)

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
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Rating: PG

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.

Three 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.

Tong 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.

Ann 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.

Movie Review:

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.

Movie Rating:

(This Beast should have bore its fangs and sharpened its claws more to become a crime-thriller classic)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Connected (2008)

. Fatal Move (2008)

. Invisible Target (2007)

. Flash Point (2007)

. Rob-B-Hood (2006)

. Portege (2006)

. Kidnap (2006)

. Divergence (2006)

. Seoul Raiders (2005)

. New Police Story (2004)

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