Enemy Shadow (1995)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-05-06
While it is tempting to reach into the editing bag of tricks in an attempt to gloss over a clunky script and bad directing, too much flash just points out what you are trying to hide. "Enemy Shadow" begins with heavy but unconnected symbolism with extreme close-ups of Jade Leung's eyes intercut with shots of Hong Kong at night with an occasional overlay or super of a timepiece or other stock image, all held together by wipes during quick camera pans. There is a lot packed into the first few minutes of this movie, much of which says "Don't bother watching". The script is barely there—it seems to be more a summary treatment, just sketching out the action, but there are enough technical devices used to remake “The Battleship Potemkin”. Freeze frames are followed by slow motion. Voice-overs to cover gaps in the script are used constantly and we don’t know until the very end if the entire movie is a flashback—actually we don’t know even then. The narrative focus is all over the place. This isn’t an exercise in the post-modern deconstruction of a film text undermining itself but is just another example of sloppiness and lack of focus by the director.

“Enemy Shadow” becomes marginally interesting when a violent gang, armed with pistols and hand grenades, robs a bank. The robbery takes place literally across the street from where uniformed constable Jade is buying a cup of green tea. Her boyfriend/supervisor is killed as are several bystanders and Jade freezes, unable to react, even when she has the masked leader of the gang at point blank range.

We next see her on pistol range in rain doing timed quick-draw type moves and shooting at a target. After a few more incomprehensible editing tricks Jade is now undercover, being introduced to Kung, a street level gangster, as a new recruit of Sister. She and Sister are there to buy drugs, which they do. There is a squad of policemen waiting for the deal happen and they spring the trap—although in a shocking scene that doesn't seem to fit any fictional scenario, they don’t start until Jade ties up and shoots heroin into a vein something which makes it difficult to take it seriously.

She is caught in the typical dilemma of undercover cops--the only way to get close enough to the target so that they can be arrested is to gain their trust but once the cop is trusted by the criminal and begins to see the bad guy as more than a target, the cop pays a steep emotional price for betraying him.

She quits the force and becomes a good time girl hanging out at a disco. She is picked up by the quintessential bad guy and falls hard for him. As they get to know each other Jade and the bad boy spend time at posh clubs and hot restaurants. Their people-watching is accompanied by talk of changing identity, how people become different based on their environment--not terribly heavy-handed but an unnecessary underling of the theme of the movie.

There is a lot of gunplay which is competently staged one very well done action scene in an elevator. Shing Fui-On, Jade and May Law get into the elevator but not all of them make it out. Other than the heroine just about everyone is either a villain or a trigger happy and completely incompetent cop

"Enemy Shadow" ends about 45 seconds after it should--the filmmakers throw away the ultraperfect Jade Leung image. She is dressed in body armor which is soaking wet and covered with mud, hair pretty much in place and a few smudges on her face that only highlight her beauty. She is holding a big automatic pistol in both hands, looking over the sights at the last bad guy left in the movie and deciding whether to arrest him or shoot him.

Jade Leung with a gun in her hand, looking beaten but unbowed, knocked around a bit but still ready to mete out justice is the iconic image of this actress for her fans, something which Chan Dung-Chuen and Felton Law Gwan-Joh clearly didn't get.

There is one stretch of about eight minutes of solid, enjoyable movie making and a lot of shots of Jade Leung doing what she does best but nothing else in “Enemy Shadow” is worth watching.

Not recommended
Reviewer Score: 2