Chasing The Dragon
ANDY Lau probably did not need de-ageing CGI to play Lee Rock, the notorious “HK$500 million cop” he first played in two movies back in 1991. Over a quarter-century later, he still looks the same! Lee Rock and equally infamous drug kingpin Ng Sek-ho a.k.a. “Limpy Ho” (Donnie Yen, in the role played by Ray Lui in 1991’s To Be Number One) share the screen in this “based on true events” cops-and-gangsters melodrama. The film fares better at recreating a gritty and authenticseeming underbelly of 1960s Hong Kong than at telling a believable story.
For one thing, to get us to accept these two guys – come on, a corrupt cop and a frickin’ drug dealer, for crying out loud – as “folk heroes”, the solution is to ... blame it all on the sei gwei lo. Yep, the British colonial “masters” – exemplified by nasty, brutal crooked cop Hunter (Bryan Larkin, doing a better job than the average token Hong Kong/China movie foreigner) – are tarred here as the root cause of all the graft and heroin-pushing. Lee and Ng? Simply upright dudes trying to do right by their bro’s within a broken and dirty system. Yeah, right.
But Yen, Lau and their supporting cast – including stalwarts like Kent Cheng and Kenneth Tsang, who both had key roles in To Be Number One – are so earnest that you almost buy into what they’re peddling. Yen in particular flexes his acting chops a great deal more than his action moves, and is certainly more serious here than in his recent Hollywood outings.
All things considered, Chasing The Dragon is a welltold tale of the kind we haven’t seen in a while, though its final confrontation throws history out the window and plays it strictly for well-worn “heroic bloodshed” cliches.
QUITE possibly the oddest shot-inMalaysia film you’ll see this year. Aaron Kwok stars as a corrupt cop in this remake of the South Korean crime flick A Hard Day. After running over a man, he hides the body in a rather unusual place. Then another corrupt cop (played with over-the-top flamboyance by Wang Qianyuan from Brotherhood Of Blades) shows up, demanding that he produce the body – or else.
It’s unusual to see Kwok playing a bumbling paper tiger who is all blustery but folds like an accordion when he realises his adversary is a lot more formidable than he bargained for. It’s even more unusual to see Malaysian imagery and settings in a film where everyone – and I mean everyone – speaks Mandarin (though the movie cutely acknowledges this in a short but bizarre sequence of outtakes over the end credits). Kwok does say “thank you” in our national language, though it sounds like “trim my cow’s hair” played back at high speed.
Several days later, I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this movie. If you’re hankering for an offbeat noir-ish crime caper with intentional and unintentional comedic bits, then look no further. Otherwise, keep the peace and move along.