Organized Crime & Triad Bureau (1994)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-03-04
If I were a wanted criminal fleeing the police and were given a choice among the Keystone Cops, Leslie Neilson’s Police Squad or the intrepid band of anti-crime warriors led by Inspector Lee (Danny Lee) in “Organized Crime & Triad Bureau” I feel I would have a better chance of escaping if Lee were after me. Lee mobilizes the PTU and maritime divisions of the Hong Kong police force to hunt Anthony Wong and Cecilia Yip. The police have all the advantages. The suspects are on a small island so there is no place for them to go. They have no supplies, no weapons and are reduced to smearing themselves with animal dung to confuse tracking dogs. Lee himself directs the search from a helicopter. But the fugitives elude the manhunt long enough for other officers—either saner or more corrupt than Lee—to call off the search. Lee wasn’t exactly looking for a needle in a haystack—he showed he probably couldn’t find a needle in a needle factory.

Once they have suspects in custody Lee’s officers—both male and female--act with savage cruelty. They are not in the same league as Tomas de Torquemada’s Spanish helpers but could have fit in easily with the U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. The theme of the “thin blue line”, that it is only a few brave cops standing between society and hordes of criminals comes up often in the dialog as Lee’s cops beat, smother, choke and threaten to mutilate suspects. Variations of “They don’t have rights, they are criminals” and “We are the only ones who know how to deal with them” are voiced often.

Ho Kin Tung (Anthony Wong) has a strange relationship with his female counterpart Cindy, played by Cecilia Yip. He inadvertently saved her from a mad rapist when his car collided with the rapist while the rapist was chasing Yip to kill her. Yip escaped and ran home but her parents were unsympathetic—they wanted her to forget the whole incident—so she hunted down the rapist and stuck a broken bottle into his throat. Suitably impressed Wong finished the job by crushing the guy against an abutment with his car and love was born. But that is not the strange part—that is more of the way that characters played by Anthony Wong “meet cute” with their intended. The sickest (or most interesting) thing about the relationship is that the audience discovers this and other background through flashback’s that Yip’s character has while she listens outside the bedroom to Ho Kin Tung have sex with his wife or with prostitutes. It works structurally although seems a very lazy way of telling the story but does give the relationship a really insane edge.

Ho Kin Tung’s wife is a very accomplished crime boss herself. In order to raise money to buy guns so that the gang can get her husband out of jail (Lee’s men finally tripped over him and got him in custody) she plans and leads a daylight robbery of a jewelry store—not a quick smash and grab but an operation timed to the second with all the robbers getting their orders from her and escaping just as the SWAT team finally makes it to the scene. She is tough and resourceful, facing down a room full of thuggish Mainland gun dealers who are outraged that she wants to inspect the merchandise before handing over the cash.

Ho Kin Tung has women lining up to shoot it out with the cops for him and Cindy looks great when she accessorizes her outfit with a sawed-off pump shotgun. Cecilia Yip was most convincing as a tough gun moll. The ravishing Ching Man-Cheung was terrific as a tough Triad wife.

There have been a lot of films that centered on a couple on the run, some of them classics. Arthur Penn created a film that spoke for a generation with “Bonnie and Clyde” and John Lewis all but defined film noir in “Gun Crazy”. Other movies, not quite in that exalted company but still notable are “Thelma and Louise”, “Badlands” and “Perriot le Fou”. The desperation, determination and bravado that fuels the chase combined with the charisma of the outlaws and the seemingly natural audience appeal of the hunted is an extremely powerful combination.

While Wong and Yip weren’t about to replace Beatty and Dunaway in the consciousness of moviegoers their characters had a lot of potential. Ho Kin Tung was a tough Triad leader targeted by an obsessed cop while Cindy was a nice girl who decided to take the law into her own hands not after being raped but after her middle-class parents were more concerned about their social status than the well being of their daughter. But even though they were the most energetic and enticing characters in the movie it wasn’t about them. It was about Danny Lee and his squad of trigger happy cops. Inspector Lee was as interested in turf battles with the anticorruption squad as he was with arresting criminals. Unfortunately, Lee’s bureaucratic adversaries, led by the extremely straight laced Inspector Lam (Ricky Yi Faan-Wai at his most irritating) were the ones actually upholding the law. The real problem with Inspector Lee, though, was his incompetence. He couldn’t find Ho and Cindy although he commanded land, sea and air forces to do so. He didn’t realize that there was an informer at the very heart of his department until much too late and he let the egregious Inspector Lam outmaneuver him at almost every turn.

Recommended, althugh not highly and more for the parts than their sum.
Reviewer Score: 6