Every one knows Chow Yun-fat as Mark Lee. And this film actually paid homage to the well known legendary character. However "Painter" 's personality in this film is cruel, bloodless and more close to mafia.
Like Rigor Mortis (2013), audiences also realise that the entire story is layered fictional reality which created by the inner character. 'Fictionalised reality within the fictional tale' was consciously dealt by its fictional character itself.
It's typical defamiliarization in narrative structure however the risk is possible disappointment of audiences who want and believe the simple and not layered fictional reality in the simple fictional tale.
Non-linier narrative can create parallel world, a small universe with in narrative structure like In the Mouth of Madness (1994; Dir. John Carpenter).
For instance, the cruiser sequences are repeated twice from different action Lines of HK police and the counterfeit bank notes organisation led by "Painter". This is a surrealistic intercut rather than cross cutting in liner narrative films.
For editorial aspect, the uniqueness of ''montage sequence'' is that its aesthetics is more affected by photoshop-like layer concepts. We can see characters shapes are turned into layers in mono colour, and dissolve into the next land scape layer which appears from the cropped shapes of characters.
When Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) travels through Europe, Asia, North America with his counterfeit colleagues to seek perfect counterfeit technology to imitate the new US dollars in 1996, this kind of montage sequences appear.
Besides this, the fake explosion scene in the testimony of Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) especially represents the aesthetic nature of the entire film.
This methodologically deceptive solution fits the theme ''counterfeit''. In which Lee Man's testimony about the upcoming violence from ''The Painter"ends up with '' imaginal explosion'', after that film reverses the time to back to ''reality'' from this imagination.
The director Felix Chong throughly did his research on counterfeit bank notes and purchased a 7-ton real currency press, which cost HK$100,000, which was able to create realistic looking counterfeit currency, which had to be reported to the Monetary Authority. The art director Alan Mak should be mentioned due to his huge contributions to this film.
You can not find more realistic counterfeit banknotes film in the past decades. Moreover, this counterfeit film's methodological solutions and its non liner narrative structure fit the nature of its theme ''counterfeit''. This artistic achievement should be complemented.
This film explores fictional reality and its fictional universe with in a fictional film. The content and form are perfectly unified in to ''counterfeit'' structure and its ''counterfeit''stories. This is one of successful Asian film cooperation among Mainland China, Hong Kong and Thailand. The quality is only getting better.