|Index||4 reviews in total|
ISLAND OF GREED (Hei Jin)
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic)
Sound format: Dolby Digital
A Taiwanese special agent (Andy Lau) goes on the trail of a Triad gang leader (Tony Leung) who attempts to bribe his way into political office.
Large-scale blockbuster from director Michael Mak, unusual for its up-front exploration of Triad involvement in Taiwanese politics. Stand-out action set-pieces include a chaotic shoot-out in a crowded marketplace between Lau's men and a group of would-be assassins, and a large-scale riot on the streets of Taipei as taxi drivers stage a huge strike commissioned by Leung for nefarious purposes. Look out, too, for an audacious sequence in which Lau and his cohorts struggle to prevent a character from being attacked by snapping Alsatians, though this scene is compromised by images of horrific animal cruelty (chickens are dragged behind speeding vehicles and savaged by the rampaging dogs, for real), resulting in this scene being completely removed from British prints.
The narrative unfolds at such a breakneck pace, it's often difficult to keep tabs on proceedings, and the film will leave some viewers trailing in its headlong wake. Leung is terrific as the vicious gangster stifled by circumstances beyond his control, and weary of his arrogant superiors, and Pauline Suen ("Love and Sex of the Eastern Hollywood") is equally strong as his sexy but ill-bred wife, all too aware of her intellectual limitations but desperate to support her husband's political ambitions. Sadly, Lau is rather anonymous in a role which gives him virtually nothing to do, and his character barely registers as a presence. Given its setting, the film was recorded in sync-sound Mandarin and dubbed into Cantonese for its Hong Kong theatrical release - stick with the original.
As much as I enjoy Hong Kong cinema, then every now and then I do
happen to come across a movie that is far below what is the usual level
of production value and entertainment value, even for a Hong Kong
movie. And "Island of Greed" ("Hak Gam") was one such movie. Not even
Andy Lau or Tony Leung Ka Fai could manage to pull this movie up.
The storyline in "Island of Greed" is fairly predictable, and actually becoming uninteresting and irritating at moments. There is just something fundamentally incoherent to the storyline, which makes it a very poor experience. The characters are well enough fleshed out, but the story is suffering from predictability and an uninspiring story told. And as for the action in the movie, well it was alright - just don't expect it to be up to John Woo's level of action.
There are far better action movies from Hong Kong than this one, and this is far from being among the top movies by either of the two major Hong Kong actors here (Andy Lau and Tony Leung Ka Fai). And there is absolutely nothing here to justify or even spur you on to want to watch the movie a second time, because just getting through it the first time was a big enough struggle.
This was a swing and a miss...
Black Gold is a good portrayal of corruption in Taiwanese democratic
politics, but is also packed with action, romance and all of the other
trademark Hong Kong stuff. Yes, Hong Kong! I watched this movie not
knowing what it was about, and was shocked to see two Hong Kong actors
speaking terrible Mandarin in a movie set and filmed in Taiwan! Anyways,
Black Gold is about a former mobster (Tony Leung Ka Fai) who tries to run
for election in the Taiwanese Legislative Assembly and the cop who is out
stop him (Andy Lau Tak Wah)
One thing I disliked Black Gold is how Andy Lau's cop character is the protagonist, while Tony Leung's to-be politician is the antagonist; Tony faced way more obstacles (enemy mobsters, police investigation) than Andy did. Honestly, Andy really had no reason to hate Tony. On another note, I found there were many unnecessary characters, such as a Buddhist cult minister and a few extra mob bosses. Also, I also found that the action scenes were unclear and and the camera often seemed too close. There may also have been continuity problems, but this may be due to TV censorship.
Though not a great movie, it was nice to see rare shots of Taipei. And of course, viewers must remember that Hong Kong movies are cheesy, and it's important to overlook some minor errors.
Don't even bother watching this movie. I watched it at a theatre and wanted to leave half way through it but decided against it since I'd already spent my money on this worthless movie anyway. The plot is predictable, the action scenes worse than a home-made movie, and even a film school freshman could have done a better job on the editing.
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