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ª (1997)
The Island of Greed

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 06/16/2010

One of Hong Kong's biggest box office draws in 1997, Michael Mak's Island of Greed is a highly-budgeted and ambitious look into the dirtier side of Taiwanese politics. Even though lead actor Tony Leung Ka-Fai gives his all in a performance that garnered him a Hong Kong Film Award nomination, and there are some impressive set pieces directed by Yuen Bun that also got a nod from the HKFAs, the meandering and confusing script -- the one major part of the movie that really shouldn't have gotten a HKFA nomination, but did -- will most likely end up putting off many viewers.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 10/19/2005
Summary: Uninvolving thriller, produced on a lavish budget


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic)
Sound format: Dolby Digital

A Taiwanese special agent (Andy Lau) goes on the trail of a Triad gang leader (Tony Leung Ka-fai) who attempts to bribe his way into political office.

Large-scale blockbuster from director Michael Mak, unusual for its up-front exploration of Triad involvement in Taiwanese politics. Stand-out action set-pieces include a chaotic shoot-out in a crowded marketplace between Lau's men and a group of would-be assassins, and a large-scale riot on the streets of Taipei as taxi drivers stage a huge strike commissioned by Leung for nefarious purposes. Look out, too, for an audacious sequence in which Lau and his cohorts struggle to prevent a character from being attacked by snapping alsatians, though this scene is compromised by images of horrific animal cruelty (chickens are dragged behind speeding vehicles and savaged by the rampaging dogs, for real), resulting in this scene being completely removed from British prints.

The narrative unfolds at such a breakneck pace, it's often difficult to keep tabs on proceedings, and the film will leave some viewers trailing in its headlong wake. Leung is terrific as the vicious gangster stifled by circumstances beyond his control, and weary of his arrogant superiors, and Pauline Suen (LOVE AND SEX OF THE EASTERN HOLLYWOOD) is equally strong as his sexy but ill-bred wife, all too aware of her intellectual limitations but desperate to support her husband's political ambitions. Sadly, Lau is rather anonymous in a role which gives him virtually nothing to do, and his character barely registers as a presence. Given its setting, the film was recorded in sync-sound Mandarin and dubbed into Cantonese for its Hong Kong theatrical release - stick with the original.

(Mandarin dialogue)

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/17/2001
Summary: more time to develop would of mad this a lot better

Well it looks good but everything sort of fell apart. The movie starts off like it was going to be a serious crime drama, but the intensity doesn't last for this 2 hour movie. Tong Leung plays a villian very well but andy Lau seems to be in "just another role" so my performance shall be the same as it always is!! Disappointed, because this could of been much better


Reviewed by: Yellow Hammer
Date: 12/30/2000

Bureau of Investigation Artillery Team captain Fong Kwok Fai despises crime. He forms a special unit with his teammates to investigate Chow Chiu Sin, an underworld boss in Taiwan. Fong Kwok Fai's investigation team invades Chiu Sin's underground gambling parlor to arrest him, only to release him when a judge in Chiu Sin's pocket sets him free. Kwok Fai and his team is angry and discouraged, but with television reporter Ling Fei consoling him, he comes up with new plan and teams up with construction company's Lam Tung to obtain Chiu Sin's criminal evidence. He begins his investigation with Chiu Sin's finances, only to have the Bureau's assistant chief order the investigation to stop......
[ Movieworld HK ]

The movie is about political life in Taiwan, about how corrupt government officials are. It focuses in on triad leader Chau Chiu-Sen, played brillantly by Tony Leung Ka-Fai. It was a role that Tony normally doesn't play, a role usually reserved for actors like Anthony Wong, Roy Cheung, or Simon Yam. Chau is a mean yet charismatic character, the head of the Sung-lin triad. Chau had already served time, 5 years in jail for his triad activities. He is a successful entrepeneur, operating 38 video game arcades as facades for casinos. Net worth of around $3 billion NT (Taiwan) dollars. He decides that being an underworld leader is not enough, so he decides to run for office, specifically as a candidate for the Legislative Council. In the U.S. it would be equivalent to a U.S. Senator, so it is a position of high influence.

Feng Guo-Fei (Andy Lau) is the anti-Chau Chiu-Sen. He is with the Taiwan Bureau of Investigation, an untouchable hell-bent on bringing down Chau. Feng and his team arrests Chau in one of his casinos during a sting. But the judge in the case is a crony of Chau's and determines that he is not guilty of operating illegal casinos. At this time, we see the appearance of news reporter Ling Fei (First Strike and Eighteen Springs star Annie Wu), who we find out later is also Feng's love interest.

Throughout the movie we see Chau operate in his ruthless, conniving manner to gain his political and power/money aspirations. Towards the end, we do see a different side of him, his love for his wife Miu Heung (Paulyn Sun) and his emotional side during his last days of power.

This film garnered many HKFA nominations, including Best Actor (Tony Leung), Best Actress (Paulyn Sun), and Best Screenplay.