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法內情 (1988)
The Truth

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/07/2007

Making a good movie is never easy although there are some decisions made very early in the process that will make it more or less difficult. When Taylor Wong and Johnnie Mak decided that “The Truth” would be a courtroom drama it should have smoothed the way a bit for them. The characters, structure and even the sets are already defined. The conflict occurs in a specific place, the stakes are very high, the outcome isn't known by either the audience or the characters until the end and there is always a chance of a sudden twist or reversal just when it seems that justice has been done or denied. Among the memorable examples of the sub-genre are “Inherit the Wind”, “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Anatomy of a Murder.”

One way to mess up a good thing, which happens at almost every turn in “The Truth” is to make the main character, the defendant, obviously guilty. No matter how much we sympathize with Deannie Yip, a person for whom nothing has gone right for years, or how much we loathe Officer Wong Fat, played with reptilian accuracy by Wong Chi-Keung, we still see her kill him. She is not only guilty of murder but guilty with just about every aggravating circumstance we could imagine. There was premeditation, malice aforethought, lying in wait--all more or less obsolete terms but they define exactly what she did—and also fit with Andy Lau and Paul Chun in barristers wigs and gowns.

Another major problem is that Andy Lau plays an extremely incompetent lawyer. The attorney who is central to the drama can be a lot of things—Paul Newman was a drunk in “The Verdict”, Charles Laughton is so ill he can barely make it to court in “Witness for the Prosecution” and Jose Ferrer was a preening narcissist in “The Caine Mutiny”. All of them, however, were terrific advocates who gave their clients the best chance in the world to beat the rap against them. Helen, Andy Lau’s mother and client, would have done better with a first year law student representing her. Lau bribed a witness—a prostitute who had no reason to follow through with the deal after she got the money. He convinced Mildly a loan shark memorably overplayed by Shing Fui-On, to testify that Officer Wong Fat was a low-life who owed money to him and other underworld figures, but then lost control of him. Mildly wound up being led off the witness stand while demanding that the court pay the dead cops debts. So we have a guilty defendant and a bad lawyer, a very bad combination.

The courtroom scenes are preceded by an hour of dreadful melodrama as we see the downward spiral of Helen. As a middle-aged, drug addicted prostitute in a low rent brothel she isn’t far above the gutter to begin with. It was difficult to watch her being abused and all but tortured by almost everyone she encounters. Fat in particular is evil—he blackmails Nancy for money to pay the loan sharks but clearly enjoys wielding his power over her as much as he hunger for money. Unfortunately for Helen the law is solidly against private citizens killing even such loathsome people at Fat. If you decide to go ahead and pull the trigger you need a really good lawyer in your corner, which she didn’t.

The high point of “The Truth” was watching Shing Fui-On attempting to eat underdone fried eggs while holding court with his thugs in a restaurant. It is a mess of a movie with no characters to identify with, lazily plotted, overlong and almost always either tawdry or dull.

Not recommended.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Brian Thibodeau
Date: 12/13/2005

Ridiculous, bombastic sequel to 1985’s THE UNWRITTEN LAW (and NOT a re-edited comp of TV episodes on which the trilogy is based, as suggested in other reviews here) hinges on lawyer Andy’s complete ignorance of the potentially life-altering revelation made during that film’s climax! Apparently, he saw no reason to follow it up, as he’s back to defend the same woman (Deannie Yip) on another murder charge after she kills a dirty cop (Kirk Wong) who threatened to expose her identity to an estranged relative she secretly supported from infancy while her own life swirled down the toilet. Only problem this time is she’s a batty hag who clearly intended to kill the guy, and Andy shows his true colours by concocting an elaborate web of flimsy lies, all of which makes both characters rather unlikeable, even as the filmmakers try to paint sleazy prosecutor Paul Chun Pui and his judge pal - who are generally right in their view of the situation - as slimy manipulators out to stick it to the lower classes. The whole trial sequence here is unbelievably contrived from nearly the moment it begins, and takes the first film’s cliches to inspired heights of idiocy. As if this turd needed further buffing, pop screamer Maria Cordero belts out the ghastly theme song “Mama, I Love You” as one big crying jag! Flashbacks to the first film are newly shot. Followed by THE TRUTH: FINAL CHAPTER.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 03/18/2002
Summary: Pretty bad

The film version of the 'popular at the time' series in the early 80's. I had only seen a handful of episodes from this TV show and found them rather boring, as is this terribly bad film. The plot is simple as mentioned in the last review and I won't go further than what they said. I do not recommend this at all, and the sequel is even worst.

Rating: 2/5

Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

A popular 80's TV serial which was re-edited into a two-hourmovie. Unfortunately, it comes across as an uneven, melodramatic mess. Andy Lau plays a hotshot young lawyer who must defends his long-lost mother, who murdered a man to protect her son.

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Orphaned lawyer Lau Chi Pang (Andy Lau) discovers his birth mother is a drug addict and accused of murdering a bad cop, so he gets the testimony of a triad goon and even bribes a witness to get her free. Not quite as woefully sad as the sequel, and it has a rousing (but ridiculous) courtroom finish.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 5