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Sin yan
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The Stool Pigeon (2010) More at IMDbPro »Sin yan (original title)

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The Stool Pigeon -- THE STOOL PIGEON examines the fine line between cops and their undercover informants.  Police Detective Don Lee (Nick Leung) makes a bad call, causing a close informant to be injured. A year later, he must locate a new man to go undercover inside a jewel-theft ring. Ghost, Jr. (Nicholas Tse) doesn’t want to do it, but Lee can offer deals and apply pressure that makes it hard to say no. Lee makes decisions based on the progress of his case, but not always at the benefit of his informant. Ghost must play a role, but can’t decline the chance to do what’s right. Best actor Nick Cheung, Nicholas Tse and Director Dante Lam renew the successful collaboration that brought audiences the multiple award-winner The Beast Stalker.


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Down 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Dante Lam (story)
Wai Lun Ng (screenplay)
View company contact information for The Stool Pigeon on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
26 August 2010 (Hong Kong) See more »
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.
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. | Add synopsis »
2 wins & 18 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
One of Dante Lam's best, this tightly-plotted thriller boasts excellent character-driven drama and brilliant acting from Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order)

Nick Cheung ... Don Lee

Nicholas Tse ... Ghost Jr.

Lun Mei Gwei ... Dee

Kai Chi Liu ... Jabber
Pu Miao ... Cher
Yi Lu ... Barbarian
Sherman Chung ... Ghost's sister
Kong Lau ... Cher's father
Philip Keung ... Tai Ping
Lawrence Cheng ... Cher's brother
Shing-Cheung Lee ... Don's superior
Deep Ng ... Fairing
Kong Kam
Jing-hung Kwok
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hin-Wai Au ... Senior inspector
Lap-Fung Cheung ... Wing's Hitman
Max Tat-Lun Cheung ... Don's colleague (as Max Cheung)
Tony Ho ... Pimp Wing
Roderick Lam ... Drug Dealer
Sum-Yee Lau ... Jewelry store employee
Siu-Bing Leung ... Social worker
Oscar Ka Li ... Roadblock policeman (as Oscar LI)
Rob Lok ... Undercover CID Agent
Siu-Ming Lui ... Marco's Hitman
Yeung-Ming Wan
Ho-Kwun Wong ... Police Ops Unit
Jane Wong ... Santa's Helper
So-Foon Wong ... Jewelry Store Worker
Joey Yau ... Barbarian's girlfriend

Directed by
Dante Lam 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Dante Lam  story
Wai Lun Ng  screenplay

Produced by
Hong Tat Cheung .... executive producer
Stephen Lam .... line producer
Albert Lee .... executive producer
Candy Leung .... producer
Yue Ren .... producer
Zhonglei Wang .... executive producer
Yat Ping Wong .... line producer
Bernard Yang .... line producer
Dajun Zhang .... producer
Original Music by
Henry Lai 
Cinematography by
Kenny Tse (director of photography) (as Chung-to Tse)
Film Editing by
Ki-Hop Chan 
Matthew Hui 
Art Direction by
Peter Wong 
Costume Design by
Stephanie Wong 
Production Management
Ringo Chen .... production manager
Wai On Leung .... production manager
Tsz Kit Yau .... production manager
Art Department
Wai-Ming Wong .... property master
Sound Department
Chi-Tong Ho .... sound mixer
Kar Lok Chin .... stunt choreographer
Wai-Fai Wong .... stunt choreographer
Camera and Electrical Department
Hoi Yan Chan .... gaffer
Kim-Ho Chow .... electrician
Samuel Fu .... assistant camera: first unit
Kai-Tai Ho .... electrician
Sze-cheung Hon .... camera operator: second unit
Ming-Chuen Lo .... first assistant camera: second unit
Chun Wah Tam .... electrician
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Kar Yan Yip .... assistant costume designer
Music Department
Kwok-Jim Lo .... lyrics (as Jimmy Lo)
Petr Pololanik .... conductor
Petr Pololanik .... orchestral contractor
Other crew
Dai Song .... presenter
Niro Chung-Pan Suen .... script supervisor
Zhongjun Wang .... presenter
Albert Yeung .... presenter

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Sin yan" - Hong Kong (original title)
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113 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
One of Dante Lam's best, this tightly-plotted thriller boasts excellent character-driven drama and brilliant acting from Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse, 21 August 2010
Author: moviexclusive from Singapore

Dante Lam has found something of a creative muse in writer Jack Ng of late, and their latest "The Stool Pigeon" marks their fourth straight collaboration together. It is also crafted out of the same mould as their earlier "Beast Stalker", "Sniper" and "Fire of Conscience", and audiences who have enjoyed the morally ambiguous characters and their dilemmas in these male-driven films will certainly enjoy this latest.

Reuniting the duo of Nick Cheung and Nicolas Tse from "Beast Stalker", Lam reverses the good guy-bad guy roles played by Cheung and Tse earlier. In this film, Cheung is on the right side of the law- he plays Detective Don Lee, a cop with his conscience wracked by guilt from the fate of his last stool pigeon (or slang for 'informant'). Jabber (played by Lam regular Liu Kai-Chi) was almost slashed to death after his cover was blown, and Don counts himself responsible for making the executive decision that blew Jabber's cover.

Tse is the ex-convict Ghost, whom Don seeks out to be his new informant after police receive word that a wanted robber Barbarian (Lu Yi) is back in town for another heist. Ghost needs money to pay off his father's debt to a loanshark, and reluctantly agrees despite being fully aware of the risks. For a good first hour, Lam meticulously sketches out the relationship between Don and Ghost- opposites in the eye of the law, but forced by circumstance to befriend and even trust each other.

A scene where Don teaches his fellow officers how to manage their informants illustrates this conflict beautifully- he tells them they have to win the trust of their stool pigeons so they can get as much intel as possible, but not to get too friendly at the same time for they may have to make difficult decisions in the line of duty. It is an unenviable position that Don himself knows personally, and many of the film's most poignant scenes come from Don's regular visits to Jabber who has since become a vagabond.

Besides delineating the complex relationship between police and informant, Lam also takes care to develop his characters. Don's frequent visits to a dance studio hint of a personal tragedy that is only revealed later; and Ghost's feelings for Barbarian's girlfriend, Dee (Kwai Lun-mei), only make it more difficult for him to extricate himself later on. The characters in Lam's films have always been flawed in one way or another, but the attention that Lam pays this time round to his two central characters- Don and Ghost- ranks among one of his best.

Amply deserving of praise too are Cheung and Tse. Having won Best Actor at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards for his role in "Beast Stalker", Cheung turns in a wonderfully subtle performance here that conveys his character's anguish both in his line of work and his personal life. Because Cheung's acting is more restrained here, Tse gets the chance to be in the spotlight- and he more than delivers in a nuanced portrayal that fleshes out Ghost's struggles tiptoeing on the fine line of the law.

Lam brings the intricately and impeccably plotted first half to a head in the next hour of the film, and audiences familiar with Lam's films may naturally be expecting big-scale action sequences like those in "Sniper"or even "Fire of Conscience". But perhaps surprisingly, he doesn't give his audience the kind of visceral gratification this time round, and some may find his unusual restraint a little frustrating.

Not to say that he has lost his flair- an exciting foot chase down the tight cramped aisles of Hong Kong's street markets culminating in a midday car chase will set to rest any such doubts- nor that this isn't a taut thriller. It is both, but Lam often ratchets up the tension before an impending action scene and then defuses it without his usual signature guns-and-bullets extravanganza.

It is still no reason why you should miss this thriller. While it doesn't feature as much by way of action as one would expect from a usual Dante Lam film, its strong character-driven drama still packs a solid punch. At a time when the Hong Kong film industry seems inundated by big-budget China co-productions, Dante has stuck to his guns to deliver a gritty true-blue Hong Kong cop thriller set entirely in the iconic streets of Kowloon. In a year of lean offerings from Hong Kong, this will probably go down as one of the year's best.

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