BODIES AT REST (沉默的证人) (2019)

Genre: Action/Crime
Director: Renny Harlin
Cast: Nick Cheung, Richie Jen, Yang Zi, Clara Lee, Feng Jiayi, Carlos Chan, Ma Shuliang, Jin Au-Yeung, Kwok Chun On, Ron Ng, Sonija Kwok, Ming Peng
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Violence and Drug Use)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures & Clover Films
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 22 August 2019

Synopsis: A cat-and-mouse game unfolds over a single night when three armed criminals barge into a morgue, demanding the forensic doctor and his assistant to hand over a bullet lodged inside a corpse. While the criminals are in a desperate attempt to hide their true identities, the doctor finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into a quagmire as his past inadvertently catches up with him. Each explosive twist soon pushes the characters beyond their limits.

Movie Review:

We haven’t seen such an inventive Hong Kong crime thriller in a while. Granted that recent flicks like Line Walker 2: The Invisible Spy, The White Storm 2: Drug Lords and Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch are decent pieces of work, these sequels are set against the often seen urban backdrops of Hong Kong productions.

Much of this 93 minute movie takes place in a mortuary. Before you start thinking that it is a convenient way for the filmmakers to save on location budget, wait till you see how the story creatively uses the enclosed space to move the engaging story forward.

We see the story unfolding on a stormy Christmas Eve in Hong Kong, as three masked dudes (obviously bad guys, based on their portrayals) charge into a mortuary with the intention of retrieving a bullet from a dead woman’s body. The good guys are a seemingly mild mannered pathologist and his female assistant, who try their best to outsmart the baddies. Expect casualties along the way.

Although the movie is directed by Finnish director Renny Harlin (12 Rounds, Skiptrace), there is still a very strong Hong Kong flavour to it. Not only do the first and last shots of Hong Kong’s skyline serve as stark reminders of the current political situation, the plot twist is essentially a Hong Kongtale that we are familiar with.

Award winning actor Nick Cheung (Helios, The Trough) takes on the role of the pathologist who has to think on his feet to outwit the antagonists who have broken into his workplace. Expectedly, he manages to portray a character that you root for from beginning to end. Taiwanese singer and actor Richie Jen has come a long way since he starred in tear jerking romance flicks like Fly Me to Polaris (1999) and breezy comedies like Summer I Love You (2002). His efforts in highly lauded dramas like Life Without Principle (2011) and Trivisa (2015) have been well received. Jen may play a bad guy in his latest film project, but his empathetic portrayal will have you appreciating the actor’s hard work over the years. Yang Zi tries her best to stand out from her two male co leads, but can’t do much to make her character a memorable one.

There are also interesting supporting characters in the forms of a security guard who loves donuts, and a cleaner who has his headphones on all the time. Familiar TVB actors Kwok Chun On and Ron Ng also make cameo appearances.

The best thing about this movie is how it keeps the pace taut, so viewers won’t lose their interest and attention. There is something to be engaged by every moment. Where is the good guy hiding in the room full of zipped body bags? Are the bad guys turning against each other? How will the good guys escape the vicious baddies and not allow them to get their hands on the bullet? Although the finale is over the top (clue: there are computer generated explosions and fires), the enjoyable movie benefits from its ensemble cast’s good performances, tight pacing and inventive plot.   

Movie Rating:

(A highly enjoyable and inventive Hong Kong crime thriller)

Review by John Li

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