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u (1988)
Edge of Darkness

Reviewed by: Taijikid
Date: 08/15/2006
Summary: A great movie that deserves to be better known

Edge of Darkness is a Hong Kong "bullet ballet" that manages to transcend its genre trappings and approach the level of masterpiece. Ah Kay is a young undercover cop whose true line of work is known only to his superior Inspector Wong. He has managed to infiltrate a triad family and has quickly become the big boss's number two man. Events early in the film lead the boss and his number one henchman to suspect that a traitor has been leaking information to the police. In the meantime Inspector Wong's gambling debts have piled up, to the point where he feels compelled to embezzle confiscated drug money from the station. He loses the money at the track and so faces either certain ruin on the job or certain death at the hands of loan sharks. To save himself, he attempts to blackmail Ah Kay's triad boss, showing him the evidence gathered by his informant; and in turn the boss offers Wong a large sum of money to reveal the sneak's identity. Wong reluctantly capitulates and then decides to get rid of all parties involved in order to hide his own duplicity.

The screen play by well-known actor/director/writer Philip Chan (who was actually a cop before his involvement in HK movies) is lean and mean, with well-drawn characters whose complex motivations yield enough plot twists to keep the viewer interested. The performances are very good, with Alex Man easily the standout as the morally bankrupt Inspector Wong. The movie also provides the Hong Kong movie fan a chance to see director Lo Wei in a large role as the triad boss. The action is intense, with an opening gun fight that had this somewhat jaded viewer shaking her head over its brutality. But the real surprise of the movie was the outstanding cinematography, lensed by veteran Michael Ma. Unlike the case for many other action movies, Ma and director Fung Hark On seemed as interested in producing beautiful visual effects as in creating action set pieces and maintaining a decent pace between them. Several scenes stand out in my mind--the opening attempted rape scene in a field, the graveyard meeting between Wong and Ah Kay, and especially the climax which takes place in the air ducts of a deserted army barracks.

If you are a fan of Hong Kong action movies, this is one film you should not miss, despite the fact that it has never received a DVD release. Someone involved in DVD production should view this one and give it the release treatment it so richly deserves. Hong Kong action movies don't get much better than this.