Chas­ing The Dragon

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz -

(★★★✩✩)

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.

Arul

Peace Breaker

– Davin

(★★✩✩✩)

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.

–DA

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