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The Stool Pigeon (2010)
"Sin yan" (original title)

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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,385 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 38 critic

Policeman Don Lee often works with informants but numerous too-close calls and failed missions cause him to see the world as one betrayal after another - then he meets Guy, and is given a new chance to change his views.



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Credited cast:
Ghost Jr.
Don Lee
Lun Mei Gwei ...
Tony Ho ...
Pimp Wing
Kong Lau ...
Cher's father
Shing-Cheung Lee ...
Don's superior
Deep Ng ...
Philip Keung ...
Tai Ping
Lawrence Cheng ...
Cher's brother
Yi Lu ...
Siu-Bing Leung ...
Social worker
Sherman Chung ...
Ghost's sister
So-Fun Wong
Hin-Wai Au ...
Senior inspector


Policeman Don Lee often works with informants but numerous too-close calls and failed missions cause him to see the world as one betrayal after another - then he meets Guy, and is given a new chance to change his views.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Policeman Don Lee often works with informants but numerous too-close calls and failed missions cause him to see the world as one betrayal after another - then he meets Guy, and is given a new chance to change his views.


Action | Drama | Thriller


See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 August 2010 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Muhbir  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in America's Next Top Model: Nicholas Tse (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

A Brutally Realistic Police Drama, as Authentically Detailed as it is Immersive
28 February 2015 | by (Melbourne, Victoria) – See all my reviews

'Brutally honest' would be the term I'd use to best describe this particular feature. Although the term 'brutal' is often associated with the violent content exhibited in a film, the level of blood in The Stool Pigeon never takes away from the storyline.

Don Lee (Nick Cheung) is an officer, still suffering the ramifications of past decisions that led to his former informant, Jabber (Kai Chi Liu) been discovered by the men he was snitching on. Although Lee is attempting to atone for his mistakes, this is made increasingly more difficult by his boss (Li Sheng-cheong), who adamantly believes the ends justify the means. If ever he had a white whale, it would be Barbarian (Lu Yi), a brilliant and psychotically violent thief, who has recently returned to promulgate another job.

Advised to insert an informant into his crew, Lee discovers Ghost Jr (Nicholas Tse), a young man on the verge of being released from prison, whose adept driving skills would make him an asset to Barbarian. Immediately turning Lee's offer down, Ghost Jr instead opts to spend time with his sister (Sherman Chung), who has been thrust into a life of prostitution to pay off their late father's debts. Though their father is largely unexplored, his actions have inevitably shaped their lives, which forces Ghost Jr to make a life changing decision.

Under Lee's directive, he initiates contact with Tai-Ping (Philip Keung), the leader of a gang whose cronies have assisted Barbarian on previous jobs. Descending into a world where every move could potentially be his last, the impact of danger, betrayal and paranoia continuously gnawing at the viewers, Ghost Jr quickly finds solace in Barbarian's unappreciated girlfriend Dee (Gwei Lun-mei), their immediate mutual attraction based upon a history that is explored over the course of the story. But events begin to spiral out of control, and one question that later emerges is this: will Ghost Jr live to see his dream of saving his sister fulfilled?

Although Lee advises officers who will later have informants of their own not to become emotionally attached, he, hypocritically, is unable to separate his personal feelings from the scenario. The use of scenes, detailing previous events that have recently occurred over the course of his career demonstrates that it is not only the informants who have a grueling existence, the police having an equally unpleasant role. Having made a number of decisions and mistakes that he is not proud of, Lee is able to admit his faults, making him a sympathetic and respectable character to have headlining this feature. The relationship he has with his wife Cher (Miao Pu) provides the audience with not only another source of emotional depth, but a source of hope for the future.

Due to his screen time, though Mr Tse's portrayal of Ghost Jr is just as proficient, it is overshadowed by the focus that seems to continuously drift towards Mr. Cheung. Despite been a criminal, and persistently asking for money, Ghost Jr is a likable character, not only for his gentlemanly qualities, but his unflinching devotion to family, wanting desperately to be his sister's hero. Ms. Mei also deserved additional screen time, her portrayal of Dee effectively developing a character who, although compassionately emotional, is capable of blunt ferocity, her life choices based upon what is happening right now, rather than on what is right.

As aforementioned, Lee's past is explored over the course of several scenes, while Ghost Jr and Dee's is often articulated verbally. It would have been beneficial for more depth to have been provided to their back-stories, though the decision to focus more on Lee may have been so audiences had the opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices officers are forced to make, the shared pain of Ghost Jr and Dee needing no further attention, for their lives effectively represent the grueling nature of their existences.

A moment during the film involving a car race is quite possibly the film's most unenthusiastic moment, the scene, despite been well choreographed, lacking any real entertainment. Unable to live up to the outstanding visuals audiences have been awed by in the Fast and the Furious franchise, the scene appears to be comprised of cliché crashes and sounds that fail to cement the viewer in the moment. This aside, The Stool Pigeon is not an action movie, and for the most part, it's a plot driven police drama with substantial depth provided to its characters.

Although firearms make an appearance, more often than not, machetes and other serrated weapons are used by villainous characters as they pursue their hapless victims. The sound of flesh been sliced, alongside the screams of agony really impacts the viewer, with not only the horror articulated during these torturous moments, but the ever mounting tension.

Unlike other films dedicated to portraying the lives of police officers, The Stool Pigeon does not rely upon exaggerated footage, instead capturing the brutal realism of the lives officers and informants alike struggle to cope with. Emotionally in-depth and thought provoking, the audience are also inclined to work as detectives to piece the storyline, that isn't always set in chronological order, together, which makes for a continuously interesting feature. By the end of the film, viewers may feel the need to question who the real antagonists are in the film, and who really are the victims.

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