Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
A brief rundown, a cop who is a good cop at first turns bad as the whole force is corrupt and slowly moves himself up the ladder of success.
Reviewer Score: 3
Is this movie suppose to be a mini series cramped into a movie?
Andy Lau's character goes through the motions for, say 20 minutes, then some wording comes up and then you jump to the next stage of his life!! This jump makes the movie hard to watch. It's almost like a time warp!!
And what goes on is not interesting, i read a reviewer say below this did well in the box office??? I find that hard to believe, unless people went in there for a snooze!!
As you can see, i didn't find this entertaining, and with a TO BE CONTINUED ending, i am not sure i want to watch the conclusion!!
Reviewed by: ewaffle
Using the thoughts and actions of key individuals to illustrate great events and showing the way that events shape individual men and women have been a part of storytelling for thousands of years. I am familiar with the so-called Western canonHomer, Shakespeares history plays, the novels of Tolstoy and Balzac. These formsepic poetry, dramatic cycles, huge works of fictionare best suited for the combination of describing the huge sweep of history and also the lives of diverse human beings that are affected by and connected to it. We can share Natashas thrill at the scene of her first formal ball and the agony of the Russian people as Napoleons troops burn Moscow. We are moved by the St. Crispins Day speech by Henry V and laugh at the antics of Falstaff. In each case the catastrophes and triumphs of the individuals are just as important as the world shaking events around them.
Reviewer Score: 6
The Godfather saga, Gone with the Wind, How the West Was Won and the Once Upon a Time in China trilogy are films that have succeeded as grandiose tales that focus on charismatic characters, but the movie closest in theme and structure to Lee Rock is Comrades, Almost a Love Story. That Comrades is superior of Lee Rock in every way is not to denigrate Lee Rock, since Comrades is one of those serendipitous occurrences that happen only occasionally when director, actors and script work perfectly. It is not only the presence of Maggie Cheung that makes this the case; one empathizes with her character in a way that it is impossible to do with the police officer played by Andy Lau; the time period illustrated seems more eventful and exciting in itselfwhile Lee Rock shows the 1957 Kowloon riots, Comrades has the 1987 worldwide stock market meltdown and financial panic, the AIDS crisis and the coming handover to the Peoples Republic: Comrades fully integrates the characters into these events while Lee Rock keeps them separate, showing the passage of time with voice-over narration.
Which is not to say that Lee Rock is a failureor if so, it is a noble failure. The main difficulty is with the eponymous character. Lee grows older, tougher, more sophisticated and wealthier but still remains two dimensional. There is no depth, no reason given for his drive to the top of the Hong Kong police bureaucracyor at least that part of it not reserved for the British. He joins the force because he wants moneywhen asked his reason by the recruiter he responds that he is signing up so he can afford to eat. This basic motivation doesnt change although the amount of money at stake becomes huge, much like the mountains of cocaine in Scarface. He is mentored by older, more powerful men, makes powerful enemies and systematizes the payment of bribes. Lee does a lot of things that could make him an intriguing character but with no reflection or inner life he remains just a guy on the make who is occasionally heroic but more often brutal and corrupt.
The cast is good across the board. Andy Lau moves gracefully through the decades sometimes letting the Lees simmering rage explode, sometimes subordinating himself to his mentors, and sometimes being the seductive and lovable Andy familiar from scores of movies. Chingmy Yau as the pig-tailed Rose deploys her overbite to its usual excellent effect and the gorgeous Sharla Cheung is gorgeous. Jimmy Lung Fong and Paul Chun Pui play the heavies and do so with leering enjoyment. Both are bullies who are terrified when faced with real danger and neither has any redeeming traits. Kwan Hoi San portrayed the old school corrupt policeman, taking what he felt was owed to him, loyal to the very end to the men on his squad and willing to put his life and career on the line for what he believed. Kwans wrinkled face, constant cigarette and soft-spoken competence limned Sgt. Chan perfectly.
There were two very well executed set pieces. One was in the bar where Lee meets and is smitten by Grace for the first time. Chinese jitterbuggers dance to the music of Billy Haley and the Comets, the guys wearing pegged pants with their hair slicked back like Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis, the girls with fuzzy sweaters and long swing skirts. The sequence moved seamlessly from the slap and tickle on the dance floor to an all out gang fight with knives and clubs deployed--Asphalt Jungle meets West Side Story. A scene with hundreds of extras and a very elaborate set is the 1957 riots with huge flags being ripped to shreds, rioters chanting from upper floors and the police massing on the street. The casual way the Lee negotiated the purchase of the retiring Commissioners house with a corrupt police major, with no more concern for his surroundings than if they were sitting in an office showed how the combination of corruption and police violence were twinned.
One way the film was structured was with occasional voice-overs when Lee was promoted, giving his salary and the price of a typical commodity. It was also punctuated and confrontations between Lee and important adversaries highlighted by increasingly large and complex stage performances, the last a full scale Chinese opera production.
The ending, a bit of a surprise, could have had To Be Continued stamped on it, but the sequel is a film that may never make it to the top of my must see list.