aka 毒。誡 2017 Written by Chan Man-Keung and Sana Lam Wai-Kuk
Directed by Lawrence Lau Kwok-Cheong
The true story of redemption, Dealer/Healer spans the life of a gangster addict who turns his life around and begins helping others break their addition. The story is inspiring and jumps around the years between the 60s and the 90s (thus giving some nice costumes), but even with some great performances, the film just doesn’t gel together correctly, seemingly disjointed with the different time periods. It is a good story, too bad parts are rushed to get to the rest of it.
Hua (Sean Lau Ching-Wan) leads a gang in the late 60s (the 13 Warlocks, which is a neat name) with compatriots Bullhorn (Gordon Lam Ka-Tung) and Cat (Zhang Jin), the trio are confident and powerful, and definitely look like they are going places. Except as we see from the time jumps, by the 70s they are a bunch of addicts low-lifing in Kowloon Walled City while secretly dealing behind the local triads’ backs. But we also know from the jumps further ahead that Cheater Hua (a nickname he brashly takes for himself as a youth) is clean and works at a rehab center helping other young people get clean. Despite the three timelines, there is really only two tracks followed, the youth gang activities are just added as background flavor. Continue reading →
aka 消失的子彈 aka Xiao shi de zi dan aka Ghost Bullets 2012 Written by Yeung Sin-Ling and Law Chi-Leung
Action Directed by Nicky Li Chung-Chi
Directed by Law Chi-Leung
Bodies begin appearing at an ammunitions factory that have been shot but with no apparent bullet. The mystery crimes draw the investigators into a web of corruption, murder, and betrayal. Thus, The Bullet Vanishes sets the tone, as a mystery/police procedural that has all the layers of government and business corruption that you’d find in an episode of The Wire.
Part of the fun of The Bullet Vanishes is just watching Inspector Song (Lau Ching-Wan, Black Mask) do his thing. Song is methodical and deductive, not afraid to put himself in danger in order to get to the truth. Song values the truth above all else, this integrity is why he’s appointed as an officer to weed out corruption.
Song immediately attaches himself to Captain Guo Zhui (Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Treasure Inn), who is Song’s new department’s best detective, in that he doesn’t let the rich and powerful get away with anything, either. Captain Guo is more brash, more likely to threaten and fight, but he’s also the fastest draw in town, so his threats are backed up with deeds. Guo’s also showing the ropes to his partner, the junior detective Xiaowu (Boran Jing Bo-Ran, The Guillotines), including advising Xiaowu to take some bribes so he doesn’t become a target.
Guo’s instincts and Song’s scientific approaches mesh well, helped by both of their obsessions with finding the answers. Much of their time is dealt with impatient factory owners, rude foremen, panicked workers, and their annoyed corrupt Chief, who is just trying to get to retirement with all his bribe money before these murders muck everything up. Continue reading →
2012 Script by Gordon Chan Ka-Seung, Frankie Tam Gong-Yuen, and Maria Wong Si-Man
Directed by Gordon Chan Ka-Seung and Janet Chun Siu-Jan
Emotionless spends 99% of the film looking at people like this
What if X-Men was a confusing mess with too many characters, little character development, and an over-reliance on visual effects vs. telling a good story? Besides X-Men 3, you’d also get The Four! Gordon Chan trades mutant powers for qigong skills in this big budget production that follows the trend of Mainland cinema relying far too much on visual effects to carry weak scripts and bland characters. While The Four does deliver some nice looking sequences, overall it fails to achieve its goal of being entertaining, and even fails to wrap up any plot lines in the film. The Four seems to go out of its way to make sure nothing happens.
Don’t worry, the obligatory scene where all the main characters fight for no reason still happens.
The latest update of prolific (and troubled) Malaysian writer Wen Ruian’s work, The Four has been adapted numerous times for television in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Featuring four male detectives with special powers who work directly for the Emperor and solve problems, this version is distinct for two reasons: It is the first big budget film adaptation, and one of the male characters has been made female. Even China is changing characters around to try to attract broader demographics! In general, I have no problem with that practice. But this specific case causes some problems, as discussed below.
I’ll show them, I’ll build a real clockwork orange!
Emotionless (Liu Yi-Fei) – Emotionless can read minds/souls, has telekinesis, in a wheelchair…but she’s not a Roman numeral professor or anything! The most powerful and smart member of the Divine Constabulary, but also has handicaps because why else would there need to be three more of them? In the original stories, Emotionless is a man.
Cold Blood (Deng Chao) – Cold Blood has a demon trapped inside him that comes out when he’s angry and a sword that glows green, but he’s totally not a rip off of the Hulk. Don’t think like that! Cold Blood has legendary sword skills, and legendary puppy finding skills. He worked for Department Six Constabulary until he was fired and then got a job with Divine Constabulary, but he still reports to his old Department Six Constabulary boss.
Iron Hand (Ngai Sing) – Despite the fact he’s named Iron Hand, he seems to be a bit closer to stark copy of a Marvel hero, thanks to his great ability to built things in the forge. Electrical powered things. Including wheelshairs. In ancient China.
Life Snatcher (Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei) – A bounty hunter who specializes in tracking down people who have debts for a price. He gets mixed up in the mess in the beginning of the film, but Zhengwo recognizes his skills and offers him a job. He’s reluctant at first to join up due to it interferring with his criminal underworld connections, but ends up becoming one of their best agents (he is one of The Four, after all!)
Zhuge Zhengwo (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) – Leader of Divine Constabulary working directly under the Emperor. His unorthodox working styles is often criticized for not showing the proper respect, usually by stuffy-shirt nobles who are up to no good. It is sort of funny to see the star of films such as Ebola Syndrome given the wise and respected leader role.
Ji Yaohua (Jiang Yi-Yan) – The leader of a new crew of female constables that were hired by Division Six Constabulary. She starts crap from the moment of her introduction, and is working for the bad guy. A Penglai kung fu master with questionable loyalties… aka she’s evil!
I’ve heard of the Bride with White Hair, but this is ridiculous!