Devil Face, Angel Heart (2002)

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 10/13/2005
Summary: Good premise, disappointing production


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound format: Mono

Betrayed and left for dead by a gangster's duplicitous moll (Gigi Lai), a hired assassin (Daniel Wu) undergoes plastic surgery to remove the facial deformity which has marginalized him throughout his life, then returns to Hong Kong to take revenge against Lai and her associates.

Amateurish exploitation thriller, plotted to labyrinthine excess by an uncredited scriptwriter, and directed with a breathtaking lack of conviction by sleaze specialist Billy Chung (notorious for a string of gruesome shockers, most notably the Anthony Wong vehicle LOVE TO KILL, made in 1993). Sex and violence appear to be the principal focus of Chung's attentions in DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART, but while the sex angle is exploited for all it's worth - Lai lounges around in revealing designer outfits whilst never quite managing to get completely naked - the film's violence appears to have been curtailed in post-production for a less restrictive censor rating. Wu struggles gamely under Chung's ham-fisted direction, playing the role of vengeful loner with his usual quiet dignity (cameraman Ally Wong spends as much time leering over Wu's beauty as Lai, which evens things up a little), while co-star Stephen Fung lurks around the periphery as an obsessed cop determined to uncover Wu's true identity and establish his connection (if any) to the murder of Fung's partner (Sam Lee, in a cameo appearance). Experienced character actor Lam Suet (ONE NITE IN MONGKOK) is Wu's loyal brother, David Lee plays Lai's lowlife gangster rival, and Convoy Chan is the boyfriend whom Lai throws to the wolves with sadistic glee.

There's a juicy melodrama struggling to emerge from this artless enterprise, but the film plays like a cheap imitation of a HK crime thriller, lacking the sincerity and craftsmanship which has distinguished the former colony's cinematic output for decades. Clearly intended for a quick theatrical play-off before heading straight to video, DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART wastes a terrific premise and top-notch cast. Still watchable, if only for the pairing of Wu and Fung, but they deserve miles better than this throwaway effort. Dreadful, interminable music score by Tommy Wai.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/25/2003

Daniel Wu seems to be on a quest to be the actor to star in the most Hong Kong movies. While he's nowhere close to current champ Anthony Wong's total, Wu's output on the whole has been much better than the king of Category III's as of late. Devil Face, Angel Heart is another solid effort from the young actor, and it's a good film to boot.

In the movie, Wu plays a disfigured hitman who is treated harshly by his boss, and after falling in love with his girlfriend (Gigi Lai), Wu decides to take out the boss. However, the girlfriend has an agenda of her own, which leaves Wu's brother (Lam Suet) dead and Wu in a coma. Waking up with a surgically-altered face, Wu infiltrates his old gang in order to take his revenge.

Even though Devil Face, Angel Heart's has a plot full of twists and turns, the film-makers manage to keep things on track by keeping the movie focused on Daniel Wu, and he is up to the task. While it's not a earth-shattering performance, it is worlds above most of the other teeny-bopper pop-idol actor wannabes currently stinking up Hong Kong movies. Even while hiding behind grotesque makeup, he manages to create a believeable and, more importantly, sympathetic character. By the time the film draws to a climax, the viewer actually cares about what will happen to Wu, which is more than you can say about a lot of recent Hong Kong movies, which end up coming off as so generic and bland.

There is also a good deal of sex and violence to keep the viewer's interest. It's nothing along the likes of Naked Killer, but Wong Jing's (his production company financed the film) fingerprint is definitely there -- which makes it refreshing compared to the relatively tame films Hong Kong has been producing as of late. Devil Face, Angel Heart isn't a classic, but it does harken back to the "golden days" of Hong Kong cinema, where fans could expect oodles of "naughty bits" and solid performances, and as such, it's worth a viewing.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/07/2003

Daniel Wu is ugly! No, really, it's part of the plot. Serious ugly, Elephant Man style. Because he's ugly, he's a hitman along with his brother Lam Suet (perhaps playing "the good looking one" for the first time in his career ). He works for a bad man called Dragon, who will have double crossed the two brothers before too many minutes have elapsed in the movie. This may lead to revenge n' stuff.
First things first, this movie looks great! All very dark and gloomy - even a bit gothic perhaps. Cinematographer Wong Ka Fai is given free reign to use all those cool filters and films and angles and stuff that must make a cinematographer's job really fun. If you've seen his work on BALLISTIC KISS, you'll know the style.
It's also moderately star studded - Daniel Wu, Stephen Fung, Sam Lee (briefly), Kelly Lin... does Gigi Lai count as a star these days? This must have been one of the bigger budget productions in HK this year.
So why did they give the director's chair to Billy Chung Siu Hung? Surely the man is a hack who should be left alone making CATIII sleaze - isn't this clear? You can tell he'd be happier directing porn - witness the quite gratuitous lingering on bodies and motions in the relatively numerous scenes where people get 'amorous'.
Admittedly, he does rise to the occasion a little bit here, and the sleaze is kept in check most of the time. The direction is still rather clumsy and crude though - with all the film people out of work in HK this year, surely a better director could have been found to take the job A better director might have risen above the mediocre script and created something pretty decent from the ingredients he had to play with here. As it is, DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART looks great but fails to really satisfy in other respects.
Recommended anyway though, because it really does look that great, and there isn't exactly lots in the way of quality competition coming out of HK at the moment.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 08/03/2002
Summary: Ummm.........

I do agree with the reviewer below me. But i fast forwarded through 30 minutes of the film. That include the not so great sexual scenes and the staring at each other mindless scenes. So i managed to watch this movie in under a hour!!

I can see this movie is trying to make the point of inner beauty, just like the recent "irresistable piggies". Thats a good theme but this film is quite predictable. You know what is going to happen because it's been done before time and time again.

Performances, Lam Suet is the stand out. He is really good in this film. Sam Lee and Stephen Fung (both look too young to be cops) only play minor roles and don't seem to care too much about the movie. Daniel Wu is ok but a bit "blanked face" (meaning lack of expression)and the WEndy character was done well.

The best part of the movie was the interaction between Wu and Suet. This part you will be most moved by. The ending is not good, so be warned. Another act of predictability.

I am generous giving this:


Reviewed by: lemoncola
Date: 06/26/2002
Summary: Graphic Drama/Action Movie

Devil's Face, Angel Heart (Bin Lim, Mai Ching) stars HK's A-list actor Daniel Wu, and co-starring is Stephen Fung and Gigi Lai.

Daniel Wu's character is named Long (later will be called Michael). Long was born with a face deformity. Long's brother is a very good brother who is protective of Long and also wants to earn a living to support Long, therefore Long's brother becomes an asassin for a triad gang. Long is also an asassin.

Long does not like to kill people, but with his deformity no one will hire him to do regular work and he is always wearing a hooding jacket to cover his face. In most of the scenes, Long comes out when it is dark. That is also when he is out to hit the triad boss' targets.

One evening, Long and his brother go to Taiwan on a mission to kill and get rid of the triad boss' enemy. They go into a night club, kill the people and then in turn also kill their triad boss. Why do they kill their triad boss? -- because he is a cruel, malicious, evil individual. And also, he tried to kill Long and his brother at the night club.

Gigi play Wendy who was the triad boss' playmate. Every time they would engage in sex, the triad boss abused Wendy very badly. Long knows about this and wanted to kill the triad boss and Wendy wants this too. That is also a reason why Long kills the triad boss at the night club in Taiwan.

Long thinks that after killing the triad boss that Wendy will be with him, like she promised.

As Long and his brother are waiting at a pier for Wendy to come to Taiwan, a car pulls up the pier and guns start going off. Long sees his brother being shot to death. Then Long starts shooting at the car, gets hit by the car and then is flung into the ocean.

Back home, Wendy and Jimmy (her new boyfriend) are the ones who planned all the above mentioned. Now they both take over the triad group empire.

Long knows that Wendy tricked him and wants revenge.

Long is saved by a Taiwanese prostitute (Long's brother had ordered him to kill her at the night club, but Long spared her. And in turn, to show for her gratitude, she saves Long and takes him to the hospital and also have the doctor do plastic surgery on Long). This is where Long is now known as Michael. This is when Long/Michael will revenge against the people who killed his brother.

This movie contains a lot of violence. There is a lot of shooting, blood, etc, which is typical of movies about triad gangs. Some of the camera shots are very long and makes audience members twitch in their seats, sometimes the waiting can be agonizing. Like the scene when Jimmy's nose is being cut off, that felt like forever and it was gross. Thank goodness the director did not show too much.

Lots of people were worried about the racy sex scenes. There isn't too many sex scenes in this movie. If you add up the time of these scenes, I would guess about 3 to 5 minutes -- which is nothing. But it is how it was done. The Taiwanese prostitute licking Long's nipple was a very long shot and was not really tastefully done. And Long licking Wendy's neck was kind of kinky.

But all else, this movie had a lot of good points. Like: never judge a person by their looks. Long may have a deformity, but he has a good heart. Long does not want to kill anyone but he feels pressured to do so in his situation. I think that is really sad, I felt a lot of sympathy for the character Long.
Wendy may look pretty and innocent, but she is really evil.
Another theme is: Don't believe everything people tell you. You cannot trust everyone.

This movie is actually good and there are lots of themes and subject matters being expressed in this movie.