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.