Review: BEAST STALKER 証人 (2008) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Review: BEAST STALKER 証人 (2008)

Review: BEAST STALKER 証人 (2008)

BEAST STALKER begins promising enough with Sergeant Tong (Nicholas Tse), a no-nonsense and hot-tempered cop and his older partner, Sun (Liu Kai-Chi) engages in an intense car chase with a dangerous criminal Cheung Yat-Tung (Keung Ho-Man). However, Tong and Sun ends up in a spectacular POV, slow-motion crash involving four vehicles and multiple individuals taking place in the intersection. With Sun suffering from broken leg and trapped inside their overturned vehicle, the bloodied Tong who is all dazed still able to crawl out and stops Cheung's getaway by firing a couple of shots at their escaping vehicle. But little he does know that he has unexpectedly shot a young girl named Yee (Wong Sum-Yin) held inside the trunk, who later dies from the bullet wounds. Flash forward months later, we learn that Cheung is about to serve his sentence in prison for his part in an armed robbery that led to the getaway and the massive car crash. And the barrister happens to be Ann Gao (Zhang Jingchu), a divorced mother of twins, one of whom was Yee, who ended up dead in an accidental shot by Tong. During that particular months, Tong has spent his time befriended the other twin, Ling (Wong Suet-Yin) and is still racked with guilt over his responsibility of causing Yee's death. But in the event of Mother's day celebration in Ling's school, she ends up being kidnapped by Hung (Nick Cheung), who was hired by Cheung to extort Ann into destroying the crucial evidence (the blood sample) linked to his crime. Ann, in turn, afraid not to lose her remaining daughter, agrees not informing the police and agrees to do what Cheung wants her to do. However, Tong, who also happened to be there during the kidnapping scene, is determined to make sure that he will get Ling back into safety at all cost. 

REVIEW: For every Hong Kong cinema enthusiasts, Dante Lam is forever best known for his 1998's career-defining and award-winning BEAST COPS, in which he has hardly topped ever since.

His latest movie, BEAST STALKER, comes close to return to form but it's hardly the kind of BEAST COPS-level one might expect. 

Still, it is nonetheless a solid and effective genre movie that delivers enough amount of action, intensity and suspense to be entertained for. Pity, though, the movie is also too melodramatic for its own good. 

The best thing about Dante Lam and Jack Ng's screenplay is the way they tell a familiar storyline in a refreshing perspective by overlapping three separate stories (Tong, Ann and Cheung's point-of-view) that are both dense and complexly structured. Earlier in the movie, the story is engaging enough to hold viewers' attention and perceptions by including a series of unannounced flashbacks that seems to be taking place in the present, but they are hardly confusing at all since Lam and Ng cleverly blend this kind of tricky plotting device effortlessly. 

Adding the solid credit is the complex web of relationships of how Lam and Ng depicted both side of the characters with equal flair. Speaking of characters, the cast is excellent: Nicholas Tse plays his familiar hot-tempered cop role with such genuine aura, while Zhang Jingchu is similarly credible as the emotionally depressed barrister. But it is Nick Cheung, who simply excels as the repellent, one-eyed killer who may have been despicable but a plausible human being with sympathetic value. 

All the technical credits are top-notch, including Stephen Tung Wai's intense action choreography and Lam's direction is noteworthy, in which he uses handheld camera technique to give the movie a gritty and realistic feel. 

But too bad he can't sustain his movie as he eventually gets overcooked with all the promises delivered earlier and ends up everything being too melodramatic for the rest of the portions. The ending, which featured the weepy Tong is especially near intolerable. 

Still, given the lacklustre year of Hong Kong cinema, this is as good as it gets.

BEAST STALKER is almost a return to form for Dante Lam with an excellent cast and solid action choreography but suffered heavily from the overly-melodramatic tone.

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