Hong Kong nihilism. December 22, a street quarrel leads to the death of a gang leader's son. Next day, he seeks revenge on his brother, a rival boss. He calls on Liu, a fixer, to import a ...
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Hong Kong nihilism. December 22, a street quarrel leads to the death of a gang leader's son. Next day, he seeks revenge on his brother, a rival boss. He calls on Liu, a fixer, to import a hit man from the mainland. Lai Fu, a tough and youthful hick, arrives with a day pass. The cops, led by the morose Milo, hear about the killer; they open a full-scale Christmas Eve operation to find the warring brothers and Lai Fu. Lai Fu rescues a hooker, Dan Dan, from a sadist and asks her to help him find his way around Mongkok. By nightfall, Liu has double crossed Lai Fu, the brothers are hiding, the cops are everywhere, and Lai Fu and Dan Dan are on the run. Peace on earth, good will to all?Written by
Solid thriller but not quite as tight, urgent or interesting as it could have been
A simple street fight over a girl turns into a car chase which leaves one of the drivers dead. The dead driver is none other than Tiger, son of criminal gang boss Tim. Tim sits down with rival gang leader Carl, who's men caused the accident that killed Tiger. However a parley turns violent as Tim strikes out in revenge killing Carl's man but letting him escape in the confusion. The police are called into the middle of the investigation as a dangerous standoff between the two gangs commences. Meanwhile Tim calls in fixer Liu to bring in a hit-man (Lai Fu) to take out Carl. The police get word and it is a race against the clock to stop Lai Fu as they know that another death will spill the standoff over into all out gang war.
Although it benefits from praise and high voting from users who have mostly probably sought it out and thus have likely voted with the air of "everything foreign and little seen is cool", this thriller is still a solid proposition that is worth a look. The plot is a little messy perhaps but the layers of action are interesting as we follow hit-man, cops and criminals all living out slightly different parts of the same story. This creates a strong foundation as I found each character interesting and I was as taken by Lai Fu as I was by Milo. Likewise the film keeps a relative tension as the clock ticks down and the net tightens around Mongkok and Lai Fu.
The downside is that both aspects take away from one another. It is not totally a character driven film because it is making sure that it remains a cop thriller; but conversely it isn't as tight a thriller as it could have been because it has the characters forming part of the narrative and does break up the flow and the urgency. This means it is not as good as it could have been but the two aspects do still work well together and it is engaging enough even if it does occasionally fall short of the mark. Director Tung-Shing does a great job in the delivery, shooting everything in a stylish fashion as well as using music (and silence) to good effect. The cast are mostly strong as well with Fong, Wu and Cheung tending to be the strongest turns. Lam's Liu is amusing while Milo's men are mostly well played.
Overall then, perhaps not as strong as the praise here would have you believe but I suspect that the nature of it being foreign and not that well known has bought it some good will and forgiveness from those that have seen it. The mix of thriller and characters give it a good balance but one does detract slightly from the other, preventing the film from reaching its full potential in either aspect. Still good as a whole though and I found it a solid, if not brilliant, thriller.
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