I'm in the middle of watching a bunch of movies by Frankie Chan's company Always Good. A couple have been complete crap, others mediocre to so-so. But of all the AG films I've seen, Innocent Interloper is by far the best.
Reviewer Score: 9
Oddly, the ingredients are pretty much the same as the standard AG production. A big cast with many guest actors, a caper, a not-too-serious plot. The big difference is the amount of action. For most of the film, the pace is cracking, and there is plenty of kicking, punching and whirling, and of a high standard too. This film actually should be classified under the genre of Martial Arts.
But the acting is pretty good too. Lawrence Ng and Elaine Lui are surprisingly likeable as the leading couple. And there are three actors who play strongly and successfully against type.
Shum Wai has built a career playing villains, and the slimier the better. Here, he plays a loveable rogue, in debt to the loan sharks and unable to resist whores.
Hwang Jang Lee is legendary for dastardly super-mean kicking machine villains. His character is still a rascal, but he's also a sympathetic victim, having decided to double-cross his psychotic boss....
And the boss villain took me a while to figure out. Godsakes, he looked familiar. But it wasn't till his kicking duel with Hwang at the end (one of the action highlights) that I began to wonder who on earth in the cast could match Hwang toe to toe. Of course ! Young Wong Yu, who usually plays sympathetic humorous characters, plays it really dark and mean. And he does a great job.
Elaine Lui kicks and punches up a storm too. But my favourite scene is Michael Chan's cameo, where he plays a ninja, who breaks into a flat to recover the plates, only to be foiled by measures to catch rats. This scene is hilarious.
There's only one black mark. The opening ten minutes is taken up with an action scene, where the sympathetic victim escapes from the gang. This appears to be a well-choreographed fight scene, but you wouldn't know it, as it is shot entirely in the dark. Why oh why do so many HK filmmakers make this basic mistake ?! There have been movie techniques for decades which can make night-time scenes appear clear enough to see action. Good grief !
Anyway, get past this bungle, persevere with the following scene, and you'll be well rewarded.