Hong Kong, 2002
Dir: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
Starring: Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Anthony Wong
Undercover cop movies were a popular genre in Hong Kong film during the 90's including films such as City on Fire and Hard Boiled. This film marks a return to that area and includes some surprising additions to the formula.
The beginning of the film is a bit confusing as it manages to compress 10 years of story into a sequence that runs before the film title is shown. This part reminded me of a similar sequence in the movie Dead or Alive (albeit much less gory.)
I really liked the scene where the police are setting up for the drug bust as it was an excellent demonstration of modern communications technology on police work (I wouldn't want to be paying their mobile for bill that's for sure.)
What makes the story different to all the other undercover cop films is that there is an undercover triad member in the police force who ends up being assigned to investigate corruption. This may not sound that exciting, but the suspense in some scenes almost had me eating my jacket.
There are some good action scenes, but they are kept to a minimum so you can concentrate on the characters and the development of the story.
Something that got my goat where the product placements. I know they are inevitable in Hollywood movies nowadays, but I am not used to seeing them in Hong Kong movies.
The girlfriends of the main characters also just seem to be there for window dressing as they are really underdeveloped. The relationship between the gang boss and the mole in the police force was also a bit confusing as they didn't really explain it that well at the start (the tea drinking ceremony was a bit obscure.)
While this film is not as good as the classic Hong Kong cop movies, it is at least worthy enough to sit on the interchange bench with the team. It will also be interesting to see what Brad Pitt makes of it with his Hollywood version of the story when it comes out.