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熱血最強 (1997)
Task Force

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/16/2007

“Task Force” tells the stories of several days in the lives of three Hong Kong police officers and one prostitute. Each of them has specific issues with other people in their lives: Shirley Lau, the resourceful, brave and tough leader of the task force has a lover, a composer who is literally never available even when she most needs him; LuLu is falling apart after hearing that his ex-wife is about to remarry; Rod, whose father was a policeman killed in the line of duty, is still tied too strongly to his mother who ignores him; Fanny, the prostitute has a mean pimp and an obsession with an ultra-efficient assassin who saved her life once and for whose return she has been waiting for over three years.

Shirley had the only really exceptional story—Rod was only interesting when he was part of her life and Lulu was a dull and shallow character made sympathetic only because he was played by Eric Tsang. Fanny was intriguing as the hooker who almost always lied—a not uncommon affliction among ladies of negotiable virtue since their stock in trade is built on falsehood and fantasy. She is the unreliable narrator of the bunch. The story about the killer who loves her and who will return to her is made both more and less credible by her very detailed depiction of how they met as she recounts how he mowed down scores of armed bad guys while always making sure she was out of the line of fire. To Rod her tale is incredible as it is to the audience since it involves several iconic scenes of gunplay and heroic bloodshed we have seen before in John Woo helmed pictures. But at the same time Fanny, who otherwise has few illusions about her life, lives as if she expects her deadly paramour to show up any minute. If we like Fanny (it is difficult not to) we must accept that in this one instance—a very important one—she is telling the truth. When the killer actually does show up we are relieved that Fanny hadn’t imagined the entire incident—or at least her part in it—but also disturbed since his appearance means that lots of people will die very quickly.

Karen Mok is perfect as Shirley, a very competent and creative woman who is unable to see that she will never be as important to her boyfriend as he is to her—she will always come in second (if that) to his career. She finally realizes this when in a brush off that is callous even by Honk Kong movie standards he tells her that since her father is in a coma there isn’t anything to do so he will just stay at the studio and keep working. While he is never more than a voice on the phone the audience dislikes him very quickly. When Shirley finally understands how much of a lout he is she acts decisively, destroying the computers, piano keyboards, CDs, reel to reel tapes and everything else that her lover (now ex-lover) uses to make music and to hide from her and the rest of the world. It is a wonder of set design with everything arranged just perfectly for Karen Mok to throw, dump and smash it with monitors exploding, compact discs cascading from high shelves and sheet music flying. It was impossible to watch this sensationally effective scene without thinking of Orson Welles destroying the knickknack filled parlor in “Citizen Kane” but this one was much more fun since marked the end of Shirley’s relationship with her loutish lover and marked it with a loud bang. While it is impossible to tell from the film, I imagine (and hope) that they got it on the first take since the set-up would take forever. Karen Mok was the very picture of controlled fury as she razed the room, taking care to demolish every bit of his work that she could but at the same time refusing to spend and extra second in doing so. More than the gun battle in which Allen Mo shoots an incredible number of people from impossible angles, the destruction of the apartment was the centerpiece and strongest image of the movie.

We know that Rod and Fanny are meant for each other from the first few seconds of the movie—he is the bait for a trap to entice Mainland women working as prostitutes so they can be arrested and sent back to China. When this hooker turns out to be a legal resident of Hong Kong it is much too late to extricate Rod from her clutches. As it turns out Rod is just what Fanny has been looking for—a young, inexperienced and unsophisticated cop who she can use to help her get away from her pimp—so she stalks him, always letting him know that she is around and manipulates him into intervening when she needs some muscle.

Rod also has a strong connection to Shirley, accompanying her to the hospital when she gets word of her father’s stroke and visiting the old man on his own. He is used by Lulu to deliver Lulu’s alimony payments to his ex-wife, hoping that she will hint to Rod that she wants to is interested in beginning a relationship again with Lulu. It isn’t surprising that she doesn’t nor is it surprising that Lulu himself is shocked when she announces that she is getting remarried. Lulu is a crass boor, a womanizer who doesn’t want to control himself. One gets the impression that when his wife caught him in a car with a woman it was either not the first time or was a confirmation of what she already knew.

“Task Force” is structured almost perfectly. From the first scene we are drawn into the lives of the characters and get to know them as the movie progresses. While the ending is contrived and over the top we are left with the sense of having gotten to know some interesting people and have shared their lives for a while.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/07/2006
Summary: cops, triads, hookers and all that...

patrick leung, long time john woo collaborator, directs his second feature film 'task force'. it's a bit of a crappy title, sure, the main characters work for the police task force, but the film is less about what people do, but who they are. the literal translation of the title 'hot blood is the strongest' is equally inappropriate.

the film focusses on the relationship between rod (leo ku), a member of the task force, and fanny (charlie yeung), a happy-go-lucky prostitute. after a pretty slap-stick introduction to the two, a relationship, initially based on bizarre pager messages develops; although fanny is waiting for a mysterious assassin to return to hong kong and sweep her off her feet, whilst rod is concerned by the release of the man who killed his father. alongside fanny and rod, we get the stories of lulu (eric tsang) and shirley (karen mok); lulu is a serial womaniser, who's ex-wife (his true love) is about to re-marry, whilst shirley is coping with her father who's just had a stroke.

it's a little self-conscious, but it just about gets away with it as the characaters are strong enough to carry it off. this, combined with a stylisation that sits somewhere between a john woo film and 'fallen angels' era wong kar wai make for an atmosphere of the film is quite different than your average hong kong cop / drama / comedy film.

well worth a watch...

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/27/2005

A story of a few days in the life of three "regular" cops who work together. Rod (Koo) is the rookie, who falls in love with Fanny (Yeung), a wise-cracking hooker who is patiently waiting for her hitman "boyfriend" to come back. Lulu (Tsang) is a womanizer who is dealing with his first pangs of guilt after he learns his ex-wife is remarrying, and Shirley (Mok) is the hard-nosed leader of the group who begins to break down after her father has a stroke and goes into a coma.

Despite its title and promotion, Task Force is actually more of a character study than a police drama. The fact that the characters are cops is secondary to the fact that they are human. One telling line comes when Rod talks with Shirley's awakened father. The two are getting along well and the father remarks "I forgot you were a cop." I think that line speaks to this film's core. Unlike the stereotypical Chow Yun-Fat wannabees present in many other films, the cops in Task Force don't depend on dark sunglasses or dual handguns to make their story intriguing.

Even though these are fairly ordinary events we are watching unfold, it's still quite interesting, mostly due to the performances of the actors. Eric Tsang, in particular, is quite wonderful in his role, bringing both comic relief and pathos. All of the other actors do a good job as well; even though I am not normally a big fan of Karen Mok's work, I will give credit where it is due. She gives a convincing portrayal of the heartbroken Shirley and made the film more enjoyable to watch.

There is, however, one major problem with Task Force: the ending. Like most Milkyway productions, Task Force at once snubs and embraces the gangster movies of the late '80s and early 90's. One sequence, demonstrating how "silly" most of these films were when compared to reality, has Fanny relating a story of her boyfriend that borrows heavily from John Woo's Hard-Boiled and Face/Off. After the story, Rod doesn't believe her and thinks "she must have been a big fan of the John Woo movie." It's this kind of sly parody combined with a bit of reverence (director Leung worked with Woo for years, and is able to pull off all the Woo-like touches during the action sequences) that makes Task Force fun to watch.

Bearing that in mind, the ending -- complete with roaring Cantorock ballad and Woo himself making a conspicuous cameo appearance -- just seems out of place. Even though it does bring resolution to the plot, it leaves the viewer feeling somewhat empty. If the film-makers had concentrated more on the script and tightened up the film a bit (it does tend to drag in some places), this could have been a classic. As it stands, Task Force is an interesting diversion from the usual HK cop movie that will appeal most to those who are well-versed in the genre.

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Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 07/11/2005
Summary: Nothing special (except Charlie Young)

It seems people either really loved this or didn't like it much at all. Seeing it seven years after its release, I don't have context to put it in, so maybe at the time it seemed pretty special. However, it didn't bowl me over.

Since no one else has mentioned the plot, I will. It's a study in male/female relations told through three cops who work together on a Task Force. Most of it involves a young cop who's attracted to a prostitute who inserts her crazed mania into his straight forward nice-guy life, and the reactions that provokes in him. Another is the Eric Tsang cop who chases every skirt he sees and the effect of this on his relationship with his wife. The last is Karen Mok's character and her mostly unrequited love for her uncaring, unseen lover, and her inability to quit the relationship.

No great insights here. This is kind of light weight and comparisons to Fall Angels are unfair - it's not even close, but it kept my interest (though I don't think it would have if not for Charlie Young). There's really nothing much wrong with it, it just doesn't do much. But Charlie Young is gorgeous and we get to see a young Karen Mok (though not enough of her).

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 01/10/2003
Summary: This one has the goods. I was surprised.

Since I jusy deleted my whole review I'll keep this short. I put this up on Ebay twice for 4 bucks without opening it because it didn't look like my type of film. WRONG. There is A LOT of plot packed into the 100 min. running time. Most of it revolving around Leo Koo's character's Rod (he narates)and his partners on the force. They all have emotional plot lines that ring true and tug at your heart a bit. However, the main focus is on Rod's involvement with a wacked out ( and quite annoying ) hooker and how she drags him into a a potentially deadly showdown with a psycho. The fact that he is so naive makes me want to slap him. The surprising thing is ALL OF THIS REALLY WORKS, and to top it all off there are a fair amount of good action scenes to keep things flowing. BONUS!! There are a couple of surprise cameos in this movie, one at the end that was a real SHOCKER. I had to do a double take.

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Time passing, but a pointless outing.

I was hoping for a lot from Patrick Leung. What I got was a light hearted, fun film that wasn't engaging and didn't amount to anything. God only knows why John Woo did a cameo in such run of the mill pap. Avoid.

Reviewed by: Kyashan
Date: 05/05/2002

A good movie that show ordinary life of some police officier. Beautiful story-plot also if have not so action how I thought. Anyway is a good movie.

The end is more or less like the end of The Killer of John Wu with the policeman that help the killer.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 11/24/2001
Summary: Pretty good

More of a drama than a action movie, this movie is character driven with unexpected results. You do really enter there world of the different lives of each police person. I think the ACTION part seems emphaised to attract more people to watch this!! Those expecting lots of action, look elsewhere but if you want to see a good movie, come this way!!


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/27/2001
Summary: One of the best films of the 90's

TASK FORCE (1997) - Wow. Just finished watching this, and it blew my socks off. A real hidden gem - why did such a masterful film get saddled with such an inane and barely relevant title? This is one of the best films I've seen this year. Patrick Leung directs again, and directs brilliantly. I'm inclined to compare it to FALLEN ANGELS, partly because Charlie Yeung appears to have moved into Leon Lai's flat when he vacated it, but also because of the focus on characters with their idiosyncracies, and the proliferance of thought provoking internal monologues. It's a much less arty film than FALLEN ANGELS though, but no less intelligent. A little more upbeat too. It's certainly not an SDU film, whatever the title implies, though the few action scenes choreographed by Chin Kar Lok are top notch (the filming of them particularly makes one wonder how much of Woo's classic scenes had Patrick Leung behind them). The script is superb - moving and funny and very smart. A little bit revisionist, it tricks your expectations on many occasions. The performances are great - Leo Koo as the cop, Karen Mok as his partner, Eric Tsang as the sergeant Lulu, Alan Mo as the super-cool killer, whoever the hell it was that played the scar-faced triad and what looked like Chin Kar Lok as the robber. All great. But Charlie Yeung stole the show as the compulsive liar hooker with a child's heart. The DVD is excellent - great picture & sound, great subtitles and cheap as you like. I had to give it a little standing ovation at the end, even though I was the only person around. I don't do that often! If you don't get this one you're a damn fool and a sucker, as Mr T. would doubtless opine.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 03/09/2001
Summary: Sometimes I really blow it.

The first time I saw and briefly reviewed this film, I was nonplussed; I found its scattershot approach and lack of a straightforward plot off-putting. Patrick Leung's previous film, Beyond Hypothermia, left me with certain expectations about the film that weren't met. Now let's try again...

With the near-death of Hong Kong's unique and superior brand of action, die-hard fans are left to sift through the remains for films that can provide something different from Hollywood fare. This gap is, increasingly, being filled by films like Task Force; a little action, a little drama, and some comedy, all tied together with a certain sense of sincerity that mainstream Hollywood (and, these days, big-budget HK) movies lack. Although this is something of a "kitchen sink" movie, it's far from Wong Jing; everything is there because this is the story of several people and their ups and downs. Those who are looking through anything violent-sounding for Hong Kong's last remaining action gem will be disappointed, but those watching without expectations will find something to like in this laid-back and enjoyable film.
(Note about the "stealing" mentioned in the above review: the scene mentioned is an obvious spoof.)

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 08/31/2000

A pretty solid modern HK movie about a cop named Rod, and his relationship with a really cute hooker named Fanny, who's just killing time before her boyfriend, a John Woo / Wong Kar-Wai "Fallen Angels"-type hitman comes back to take her away to Paris. Meanwhile, the triads are after her for some reason or another, and Rod's girlfriend isn't too happy about the fact that he's hiding a hooker in his apartment.

A lot of little points in the plot were ripped off from other movies. Especially the action scene where we are first introduced to Fanny's (maybe imaginary) boyfriend. I think I saw that same sequence when it was in "Face/Off". Headphones and everything

Speaking of John Woo, he even has a small cameo in the film as a police captain, where he speaks one line: "Well done".

Charlie Yeung is incredibly cute.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

You might not expect a movie with a plot like this to be any good. Fortunately, you'd be wrong.

Leo Koo is Rod Lin, a policeman along with his partner Lulu (Eric Tsang) and his sargeant Shirley (Karen Mok). As the film
opens, he is waiting for a prostitute, Fanny(Charlie Yeung), at his house. When she arrives, his partner and sargeant are
hiding upstairs. While she is in the bathroom, they check her out to find out if she is from the Mainland. When they find
she is not, they decide not to arrest her (I didn't quite understand this). She, needless to say, is annoyed to at having gone
there for nothing.

This could have been the setup for a revolting Pretty Woman style film, and while Task Force does have a very rosy view of
prostitution much like Pretty Woman, it's not stomach churning and saccharine. For one thing, Charlie Yeung's character is
more wounded than she wants to let on, though her actions reveal this even when her words deny it. In addition, despite it's
farce-like opening, it becomes much deeper as it continues.

The story goes a bit all over the place, though it is mostly focused on Rod. Important plot points include Rod and Fanny's
growing relationship, as well as Rod's relationship with Lulu and Shirley. In addition, there is another subplot about
Shirley's family and Rod's relationship with Shirley's father. Another subplot concerns Lulu and his ex-wife.

Fortunately, the film manages, for the most part, to filter all these plot points through one character, so it doesn't feel
unfocused. Several times during the film, there are flashback/fantasy sequences that intially seem out of place. One of
these is a brilliant parody/homage of/to John Woo's The Killer. This scene was wonderfully done and very funny.

There are many funny little moments that sneak up on you throughout Task Force, continually surprising but always
welcome. I was impressed with the way the script managed to incorporate these with the story's serious and romantic
elements. Rather than feeling like a mix of elements from different genres, as do many Hong Kong films (not that this is
bad), Task Force integrates all its disparate elements into a single unified storyline.

Best of all, at no time does any element, whether comedic, dramatic, or romantic, start to feel as if it was being forced into
the film. Credit for this has to go to the cast as well as screenwriter, who manage to perform gracefully no matter what the
tone is at the moment. Leo Koo was quite good, particularly in his scenes near the end of the film with Charlie Yeung.
Seeing this film made me sorry once again that Charlie Yeung decided to abandon her screen career after her marriage. It
seems a waste to me. As seems to be the norm for her screen appearances, Karen Mok doesn't get nearly as much screen
time as her talent deserves.

See this film to see Hong Kong screenwriting at its best. What I liked most about this film was its naturalness. It feels like
you're watching a life, funny, sad, and touching throughout. Task Force just keeps getting better all the way through to its
graceful ending.

Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 03/21/2000

A chocolate treasure-box of a movie: full of unexpected, varied, delightful treats. It's like watching 5 or 6 movies, artfully compressed and assembled into one brilliant package. Leo Koo, low-level cop, meets Charlie Yeung, low-level call girl. And what starts off as apparently light police comedy picks up steam, gathering speed and weight and emotional impact as it rolls through melodrama, swordplay, wacky farce, gun-ballet, domestic comedy, and heroic action. Director Patrick Leung's usual flair for visual poetry and off-beat rhythm are there, but so is a new care for his actors (a generosity that gives them space, room to stretch), a screenplay rich with opportunity, and a freedom for formal experimentation. His film outflanks cliches, defies genres: it's a rare movie that becomes less and less predictable the closer it gets to its end. A fine ensemble cast: Leo Koo's range is impressive as a sensitive introvert who has lost his bearings. Charlie Yeung's gung-ho electric performance is fun to watch, and at the same time quite touching, as she suggests the hurt and loneliness lying beneath her compulsively dishonest persona. Fine supporting work by So Chi-wai (who creates an intense portrait of a minor triad figure), Allan Moo Chi, Karen Mok (photogenic, as usual, but under-utilized, dramatically), and a typically hammy Eric Tsang. 

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: feffe
Date: 01/04/2000

This movie is very similar to Wong Kar Wai's two movies "Chungking Express" and "Fallen Angels". The story, the way to introduce the charaters, and the setting resembles both those movies very much. But instead of Wong Kar Wai's artish movie-language, Task Force is filmed and produced more like a film by John Woo. The director, Leung Paak Gin, worked as Woo's 2:nd Director for many years. So that probably the explanation.
It is also more action-oriented than Wai's movies. It is a good movie if you are tired of unintelligent heroic-bloodshed fliks, but stil don't want to miss the action.