Reviewed by: Chinoco
Summary: Potential Wasted
This movie really started out with promise. It had me hooked from the start. Lau Ching-Wan plays an undercover cop who befriends a small time crook in order to catch on with a much bigger gang. In order to gain trust with the gang, he is forced to go deeper and deeper and engage in more and more criminal acts. Doing so however, causes his bosses in the HK police to lose trust and begin to wonder if LCW is now a cop or a full-time criminal.
Reviewer Score: 6
What really works here is the sympathetic treatment of LCW's buddy- the one who was sponsoring him to get into the gang from the start. A real friendship begins forming, so much so that the friend puts his own rep (and life) on the line not knowing that LCW is in fact an undercover cop. Another key subplot involves a girl neighbor with whom LCW starts a relationship with. Robin Shou (from Mortal Kombat) plays the notorious leader of the gang. At the halfway point of the film, the action really heats up as Robin leads the gang in a high stakes diamond heist. Unable to contact his superiors, LCW is forced into the heist which turns into a violent shootout.
It's important for me to mention that I watched the VCD version. It's very fitting because the high point of the movie ends with the first disc. It all goes downhill from there unfortunately. What looked like a building dramatic plot ends up going nowhere. Plot lines are usually just concluded with one un-expected death after another, leaving only a somewhat predictable but cool action shoot-out between LCW and Shou.
Kent Cheng does appear towards the end of the movie to add some spark as a corrupt HK policeman. One of his techniques: he has one of his men dress-up in scuba gear (yes, in the HK police station) and beat a suspect. When the suspect complains of police brutality by a man in diving equipment- he is dismissed as insane. Brilliant! As corrupt as he is, Cheng is the one officer who starts to see the real picture and stays with LCW even after all the other cops have abandoned him.
Once again, I felt this movie had a great storyline as well as great action and great actors. Something went wrong however, and it all came apart in the end.
First Disc: 8
Second Disc: 4
Reviewed by: STSH
Summary: Yet another "don't be an undercover cop" movie
Why is it that EVERY Hong Kong film about undercover cops is so depressing ? Gawdsakes, if I were in the HK police force and considering undercover work, I could certainly draw no comfort or inspiration from the movies. Perhaps this is a side-effect of the considerable control which the triads hold in the movies there ?
Reviewer Score: 4
At any rate, this film has a story which is hard to follow in the fine detail and, I suspect, has logical flaws. I only suspect, as I could not follow the maneuverings of the senior police involved. For reasons not clearly explained, Lau Ching Wan's character Black Cat goes undercover and eventually falls under suspicion of actually joining the criminals. Hinted at are competing agendas amongst his senior officers, including his upline boss who appears to be selling him down the river.
If all this apparent plotting had been clarified, this could have been a credible, even involving, crime thriller. However, the film also suffers from falling back on more than one crime film cliche. The ending, which I cannot reveal without major spoiling, is a case in point. In fact, there is little or nothing original in the story.
In contrast, the effects of these unclear decisions by his superiors on Black Cat's life are made very clear. And about the only positive effect of these is an almost accidental involvement with a lovely young illegal immigrant from the mainland, but even this ends badly. The manner of their parting is truly scarifying and, curiously, one of the most involving scenes of the picture.
In terms of acting and interest, this film is a weird mixture of dull and compelling. There are some terrific scenes, most of which are rather short. For instance, where the gang boss tries to kill Cat for his betrayal, and the tense face-to-face negotiation at the end between Lau Ching Wan and Kent Cheng. The latter is particularly impressive, as it shows only the faces of the two actors, and their expressions effectively convey two men who are utterly opposed reaching understanding and agreement in a matter of moments.
And the growth of affection between the lovers is quite nice, though far from classic.
Unfortunately, there are not enough of these great bits, and the lack of credibility of the story gets in the way a lot.
I would certainly recommend this film for LauCW's fans, esp the female ones, as there are plenty of closeups of Lau. For the rest, this is overall a middling effort in Lau's terms.