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Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
Ching Wan Lau,
Champion competitive marksman Ken comes across an armored van robbery. He sees a policeman held hostage and shoots and kills four of the robbers. One of the robbers escapes and the policeman survives. The case is handled by Jerry Chang, whom Ken knows from having recently beaten him in a shooting match. Ken is found not guilty in court. Soon after, Ken is attacked by the escaped robber Pang Tao. Their confrontation reveals a very different background story and brings about a myriad of lies and traps and changes in relationships as Jerry and Ken try to outsmart each other. Written by
Ten years ago, Derek Yee produced the action thriller "Double Tap" starring the late Leslie Cheung and Alex Fong, the title referring to the art of shooting twice so quickly in exactly the same spot to form the number "8". Last year, Derek Yee produced the crime thriller "Overheard" starring Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu, which took on the rather unique topic of corporate chicanery. Writer/director Derek Yee's latest is a sequel of sorts to both movies- though its reference to the former is probably more obvious.
As its title suggests, "Triple Tap" ups the ante by having the shooter- in this case, Louis Koo's marksman Ken- master the skill of shooting not once, not twice, but thrice so quickly in exactly the same spot. And just as its predecessor, "Triple Tap" is at its heart a battle of brains and brawn between two men- Ken and Daniel Wu's police detective Jerry Chang- that begins on the shooting range and gradually progresses off the range. The incident that sets in motion their inevitable confrontation? An armored car robbery that leaves four of the robbers dead, with a policeman in coma and another robber on the run.
At first sight, it appears that Ken had stumbled onto the scene while the crime was ongoing and proceeded to take out four of the robbers using his competition pistol. But Jerry has his doubts and Ken is subsequently charged in court for illegal use of firearms. Do Jerry's suspicions of Ken stem from his jealousy for having lost the marksman competition championship to Ken? Or is there more to the truth about Ken's presence at the scene of the crime? Well both actually- the first half suggests the former, while the later half reveals the latter.
Anyone familiar with Derek Yee's works will know that this cannot be a straightforward action movie, and in fact, audiences going in expecting hard-hitting action will probably be disappointed. What action there is played out only right at the start and right at the end, while the rest of the movie is really a psychological thriller about one of the seven deadly sins- pride. This is played out as a cat and mouse game between Ken and Jerry, two people whom the movie suggests are quite similar in their personalities- the difference lies in how much they allow their own pride to govern the choices they make.
It is through this lens that Derek Yee attempts to unravel the motivations behind people's actions within the circumstances of their lives. Therein lies the connection between "Triple Tap" and "Overheard"- both have to do with the wheeling-and-dealing in Hong Kong's financial sector. In this movie, the object of the robbery is not wads of cash but just four pieces of paper called "bearer bonds"- and Ken turns out to be a high-flying investment banker who takes pride for being one of the best in his line of work.
Despite the similarities, "Triple Tap" isn't a lesser movie because of its lack of originality. Rather, it is a lesser movie because it buckles under the weight of its own ambitions as a psychological thriller. It isn't taut enough to convince its audience of the plausibility of its scenarios, particularly in the second half. It isn't smart enough to impress its audience with its ingenuity. And most of all, its two protagonists, Ken and Jerry, aren't compelling enough for its audience to care.
Of the two, Derek Yee spends more time developing Louis Koo's character. In the hands of a better actor, Ken would certainly have been more convincing. Unfortunately, Louis isn't that actor to portray the multifaceted nature of his character- most of the time, he looks either smug or confused, even though the movie calls for him to be much more than that.
On the other hand, Daniel Wu's competitive inspector Jerry could very well do with more careful character development- especially so one can better appreciate the battle of wits between him and Ken. Ditto for the rest of the supporting characters- except for Li Bingbing's Miss Shaw (Ken's boss and love interest number two), the other supporting characters including Ken's girlfriend Ting Ting (Charlene Choi) and Jerry's mentor (Alex Fong) are also underused.
Despite its flaws, Derek Yee's film is still sufficiently engaging to entertain- especially since its pace is brisk and its actors easy on the eye. Were it from a different director, this attempt to weave a testosterone-fueled psychological thriller into a crime thriller would have been impressive. But given the pedigree of its writer/director and his past works, "Triple Tap" seems to be no more than an attempt to make a new film from two more superior ones- "Double Tap" and "Overheard"- and because of that, can only be regarded as somewhat of a disappointment.
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