"Better than The Replacement Killers. But still crappy."
Messy. Uneven. And not that great.I soooooo wanted to enjoy this film. Alas. It wasn't meant to be.
Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) is a Chinatown cop. He's decorated, but he's also on the take, as most people in Chinatown are believed to be (at least, that's how it's played in this movie). He's caught in the middle of a gang war between a group of young Asian thugs and the older, more established Asian mob, run by Uncle Benny (Kim Chan, the exact same actor who played the exact same role with the exact same character name in Lethal Weapon 4). Chen may also be getting played by Henry Lee (Ric Young), a Chinatown businessman who is the corruptor of the title.
In comes whitebread Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg), who says he's there to learn from the best.
Stop for just a second.
We now have entered movie formula territory. We'll have a buddy cop movie from here on out, where Danny and Nick won't get along at first, until Danny proves himself and earns Nick's respect. We'll have a fish out of water tale, as Danny adjusts to being the only white guy in his unit. And because he's the only white guy in a group full of Asians, we'll also realize he's hiding a secret, a secret that's obvious if you're a fan of cop films.
(spoiler ahoy) Internal Affairs. (end spoilers)
So now we just roll through the motions to the inevitable conclusions. Ho hum.
Chow Yun-Fat is, of course, electric. He's the reason the flick gets two stars instead of just one. Wahlberg is adequate, although he seems ill at ease with the action star vehicle.
Director James Foley, who also directed Glengarry Glen Ross and After Dark, My Sweet (character and human behavior driven movies) is out of his league. He can't frame or shoot an action sequence worth a damn. A gun battle in a lamp store (!) is poorly lit even before the guns start blazing.
It's a lamp store! A LAMP STORE! Even when those places are closed, every light in the place is on!
A car chase/gun battle seems to have been shot and edited by Michael Bay (some might say that's a good thing. I won't). It's all cut-cut-cut, and there's not enough time to register what's going on or to follow the action. You're never sure exactly what's happening.
There's the prerequisites for Americanized Hong Kong movies: low angle shots, two fisted gunplay and a weird whooshing sound when one scene cuts to the next, and lord did that get annoying.
And don't get me started on the soundtrack.A disappointment, to be sure. If it's Chow Yun-Fat you want, rent The Killer or Hard Boiled. If it's Marky Mark you want, rent Boogie Nights. But this movie is one to avoid.