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The Corrupter is beset by expectations of Yun-Fat Chow in another John
Woo flick. This isn't a John Woo flick (and I mean the old John Woo
pre-American Studio), but it does evoke moments that are very John
Woo/Yun-Fat Chow esque ala The Killer and the blind girl.
This film is a character study of Nick Chen and Danny Wallace (played very well by Mark Wahlberg) as cops that must make decisions that may compromise their professional and personal integrity, but the lines drawn are not as simple as that. The film really asks people under what circumstances is it okay to bend the rules in order to achieve results that otherwise would not be possible? Would it be okay to let one guilty person go in order to catch ten more in the future? Would it be okay to convict one innocent person in order to catch a thousand guilty in the future?
Danny Wallace joins Nick Chen in the Chinatown task group. Danny is forced to ask himself whether the short term actions, and their moral implications, are worth the long term good of the force, himself, and his family.
This is a Hong Kong action flick with a distinct taste of the west. The
movie starts off with a bombing and small store shoot-out that is right out
of John Woo's stylebook but then it under goes a change. The story starts
taking over and it is one of intrigue within intrigue. There are great
moments of action with two guns blazing and an unbelievable amount of
bullets but the story becomes the main thing. This works as glue that a lot
of Hong Kong movies don't have. There are long pauses of plot developments
between double crossing bad guys that are a real change to what is a typical
Hong Kong action flick.
The director John Foley likes to place people in positions where they have to make critical decisions under pressure (At Close Range and Fear) and this is no exception. A caring cop caught up in a situation of corruption is under constant pressure to decide what is right. You are kept guessing as to his ultimate decision but the pressure is there under a dozen different situations. The sub-plots add to the texture of this movie and add to its richness. These side stories of the bad cop father in trouble, the interaction of rival Chinese gangs and his love of Asian culture are all parts of the puzzle that is Danny Wallace played by Mark Wahlberg. Foley knows Wahlberg from the direction of his acting breakthrough in Fear and uses him at what he does best, the confused tough guy with the sensitive agenda. (His latest movie `The Yards' is an example of what I mean). Nick Chen the experienced street cop played by Chow Yun-Fat is the perfect slightly crazy hard-hitting loner, who has embedded himself in the struggle of rival gangs in New York's Chinatown. There is no black and white here, only shades of gray, in a world of who is doing what to whom but like the cultural differences between East and West the relationships between individuals overcomes the hard facts of doing business on the street.
A very good blend of the Hong Kong actions movie that was brought in by Chow Yun-Fat (if you hear the commentary that Foley never saw a Woo movie) and what Foley's image is for street life in New York. Coming from New York and living and working in Asia gives me insight into the homework that went into the making of this movie and I will say they did a very good job.
Nick Chen is a tough as nails New York cop who works on both sides of
the law. When a new rookie cop is assigned to his unit he sees how the
local crime boss tries to corrupt him and Chen reconsiders his ethics.
All the while a few twists and turns show who is really playing who.
This is by no means a very original movie, especially for Chow Yun-Fat. His first American film, 'The Replacement Killers,' also was kind of a re-run, but what is there to say? He's good at this type of stuff.
Just like 'The Replacement Killers' this film was also a flop at the box office and it is probably through its gritty and uncompromising tone. Yeah, there's action and intense shootouts, but it is not like 'Die Hard' or anything. Innocent people die, the ending isn't happy, but what matters is that the film isn't cheesy - it pulls no sucker punches or cheap thrills. It sticks to the characters while keeping the action secondary, but no less intense. The plot too is also pretty interesting and is a little more intricate than 'The Replacement Killers' or Chow Yun-Fat's cult hits from Hong Kong like 'Hard Boiled.' It is not quite a masterpiece of genre, but remains a solid crime thriller nonetheless. 8/10
Rated R: strong violence, and profanity
Wahlberg and Chow both perform very believably and work well on screen together. This partnership reminded me of Training Day (with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke). That is, the green cop being "educated" by the seasoned cop and we're not sure if the seasoned one is corrupt or not. I also thought it was shot well with good use of lighting. The action scenes were well directed and quite spectacular in some cases (eg. the car chase and several shoot-outs) without going too over the top. The plot was a little hard to follow at first, but I blame this on myself, not the storyline. It's commendable that so much thought was given to the script and plot so it didn't always seem we were just waiting for an action scene. The drama added intensity and suspense well, too. For example, the tension between Chen and Wallace. The thread with Wallace and his father added good depth to his character and the story, as did the fact that he and Chen retained their partnership in fighting even when the suspected worst was revealed about Chen. It was also notable the role music played in the film. For example you always knew when the Asian punks were about to show up due to the rap music. The subtle music in dramatic dialogue scenes gave the scenes a good atmosphere.
They say everyone has a secret. The Corruptor is a prime example of this saying because everyone in Chinatown is hiding something in this movie. Detective Nick Chen, played by international star Chow Yun-Fat, heads the Asian Crime Unit in his precinct. Chen is a decorated hero with many years on the force. He is also in the back pocket of Uncle Benny, the leader of the old-line gang in the city. Because of this he is fighting even harder to take down the Fukienese Dragons, a gang of young Chinese recently arrived to America. Adding to his problems Chen has a new cop in his unit, Mark Wahlberg plays Danny Wallace. Wallace is a rookie with his own secrets including a father who owes the Italian mob a large sum of money. The Corruptor is fun! Any movie that starts off with an entire storefront exploding and the one `survivor' being gunned down as he comes out the door is bound to grab your attention. Many gunfights and chase scenes later you even realize there is a story here. Mark Wahlberg continues to improve as an actor though it is hard to think of him as anything other than `Marky Mark.' Chow Yun-Fat is the main reason to see this movie. He was a star in China for many years before we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him. His English has improved immensely from his first American movie, The Replacement Killers, and his charisma is at the level that it always has been. When Chow is on the screen it is hard to watch others and it will definitely be interesting to see him in the remake of The King and I with Jodie Foster. James Foley directed this movie. It's not for everyone but if movies like Hard-Boiled and The Killer entertained you then check out The Corruptor. It's worth it!
While not perfect, The Corrupter is far from lacking when it comes to delivering the action goods we've come to expect from a Chow Yun Fat movie. People who say it needs more action or character development must have watched the wrong movie. To add more of either would have had to resulted in a longer movie. From start to finish, no time is wasted in conveying the story or showing Hong Kong style gunplay that is above and beyond what American audiences are used to. Extremely violent and full of imaginative ways to kill people with a gun, I don't see how anyone who would even consider watching this would give it a low rating. Unlike today's action flicks who strive for their precious PG-13 rating, this movie takes it over the top and is full of gratuitous nudity, immoral activity, and point-blank head-exploding gunfire. If you're into any of the aforementioned goodness, then you more than likely won't be disappointed by this flick. The famous car chase scene is perhaps the most violent ever put to celluloid. Mark Wahlberg isn't the greatest actor but is believable nonetheless. Chow Yun Fat plays the role of desensitized Asian gang taskforce detective Nick Chen perfectly. This isn't a movie to watch with the kids as Chen's antics can sometimes leave one questioning his sanity. With a touching ending and adrenaline pumping action, The Corrupter delivers on all promises - so much so that I must wonder if some of the other reviewers here were even watching the same movie. 9/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
New York's Chinatown is the background for this story about cops
assigned to the area who are pursuing the Chinese gangs that operate
within the neighborhood. Nick Chen, is a much admired cop who
understands the people and the underground. When a white cop arrives to
Chen's precinct things get a bit tense. Nick Chen takes Wallace under
his wing and shows him the ropes.
The film starts with a big bang, as a Chinese gang has wired a corner restaurant and blows it in a big explosion. Danny Wallace, who is at first cautious, is able to overcome his awkwardness and gains Chen's support. When Danny is almost killed, he tells Chen he owes him his life. What Chen doesn't suspect is that Danny is doing his own undercover investigation about what goes on in Chinatown.
When prostitutes begin appearing dead in empty trash bins, Wallace realizes there is much more going on in the area. All points out of Uncle Benny's doing, but also involved is the powerful Henry Lee, a man that has a lot of interests in Chinatown and has his hands into gambling, prostitution and illegal smuggling. Nick Chen might be involved in some of the corruption. Danny Wallace's father, also a cop, comes to his son for money to keep his habit, and finally is found in his son's apartment, where he has collapsed. Nick and Danny's friendship will be put through a test.
James Foley, an otherwise good director, brings some good ideas, but clearly, this genre demands someone else with more experience. Mr. Foley produced a stylishly looking film with a superb cinematography by Juan Ruiz-Anchia who loves to photograph from the air. His take of the Chinatown location is one of the best things in the movie. Also, the moody music by Carter Burwell seems to go hand in hand with what we are watching. Robert Pucci's screen play is full of twists and complications.
Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg show an easy chemistry in their work. These actors compliment one another and make their characters seem real. The terrific Ric Young is perfectly reptile as he develops his Henry Lee, a corrupt man. Brian Cox turns up briefly as Sean Wallace, Danny's father.
Be prepared for a lot of action!
The Corruptor is Chow Yun-Fat`s second American film. This is more like an explosive thriller, rather than his usual non-stop action-films. There is a handful of actionscenes and a cool car chase, though. Chow Yun-Fat is Nick Chen, a cop in Chinatown, who is corrupt as you may have guessed. Mark Wahlberg is Danny Wallace, a white cop, who is transferred to Chinatown, and becomes Chen`s partner. Danny soon discovers that not everything is quite how it should be with Chen, who has a lot of money & and overlooks many crimes in Chinatown. The Corruptor is a movie about the releationship between Chen and Wallace. I must say that I didn`t like Mark Wahlberg at all, because his performance is poor. Chow Yun-Fat carries this movie by himself, and he has a lot more dialogue now than in The Replacement Killers. If you like Chow Yun-Fat or actionflicks, you should consider watching this one night. It has not got as much action as The Replacement Killers, but it has a far better story and better acting. 8/10
Fans of Chow Yun Fat can finally exhale; he has made a decent Hollywood movie at last.
I went to see "The Corruptor" this past Saturday in HK. While it's not an especially good film, it's a solid piece of entertainment. Most importantly, it allows Chow Yun Fat to be Chow Yun Fat. Whereas he was stiff and tentative in "The Replacement Killers", in "The Corruptor" Chow burns up the screen. From the very first few seconds of his appearance in the movie you can see that "The Coolest Actor in the World" is back in form.
In fact, it's the acting that saves the movie. The story is a tired one, but Mark Wahlberg and especially Chow are charismatic and make their characters sympathetic. Chow also develops an onscreen chemistry w/ Wahlberg that was completely absent in his partnership w/ Mira Sorvino.
Because of it's uninspiring storyline, however, "The Corruptor" will probably still not make Chow a household name in America. But it will win him lots of new fans. Let's hope this upward trend in Chow's career continues w/ "Anna and the King".
On the surface this is just an old fashioned tale of a slightly wet newbie
cop teaming up with a hardened veteran , in short it`s a buddy movie that
were very common in the late 80s/early 90s but what sets THE CORRUPTER apart
from similar movies is just how stylish it all is . James Foley started his
career by directing videos but with one brief exception this doesn`t really
show too much with his action style being inspired by the likes of John Woo
and Hong Kong action movies . There`s some superb technical aspects such as
the editing and the cinematography is breath taking especially the scenes
where light filters through windows and we see the spectrum imposed on the
There are some flaws to the movie of course . One is Foley has cast actors whose native tongue is not English which does cause some unintentional sniggers namely when the characters mention the word " Fokkien " , yeah okay I know it`s set in Chinatown but as is common in movies no one will complain if the characters speak perfect English no matter their ethnic origin or upbringing . The script does get a bit confused and complicated in the final third which did spoil the movie slightly and some people will no doubt be put off by the sometimes over the top violence , but as a violent thriller I was entertained by this movie
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