Review: MAN WANTED 旺角的天空 (1995) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Review: MAN WANTED 旺角的天空 (1995)


Years after exploring into different territories including wuxia genre (1993's THE MAGIC CRANE) and Gen-X dramedy (1995's HAPPY HOUR), acclaimed director Benny Chan attempts to bank in the current popularity of Hong Kong's action sub-genre involving divided loyalties of undercover cop (e.g. 1987's CITY ON FIRE, and 1992's HARD-BOILED) in MAN WANTED, and mixes with a dash of love story in the vein of his own 1990's hugely-popular A MOMENT OF ROMANCE. The result is fairly entertaining and gritty enough, but largely overbearing due to its groan-inducing sappy love story.

Lok Man-Hwa (Simon Yam) is an undercover cop who has spent enough time devoting his loyalty to a big-time triad boss Lu Chan Feng (Yu Rong-Guang) until he finally reveals his true identity during a botched drug deal on the piers that erupts into an explosive gun-battle with the police. Hwa is reluctant to shoot Lu, and wants to arrest him instead. Unfortunately Lu refuses to surrender and tries to make a harsh getaway where Hwa is thrown out of the car before it blows up at a police roadblock and plunges into the ocean. Hwa is left devastated and feels guilty over Lu's death. Lu's girlfriend, Yung (Christy Chung) who has a secret crush with Hwa, ends up hating him very much. A year later, Hwa is now promoted to police inspector and he is currently on the case involving forged credit card. Ironically, the case has something to do with Yung, who resulted into such criminal offense for the sake to find a living. Instead of arresting her, Hwa wants to make amend to her and promises he'll be there for her if she needs him anytime, even though he knows he has forsaking his long-time girlfriend June (Eileen Tung). As Yung begins to fall in love deeply with Hwa, Lu makes a sudden return. Apparently he is still alive and determines to settle a score against Hwa.

Chak Ming's screenplay is overall effective, particularly on the questionable theme about loyalties and betrayal. Benny Chan's direction is equally solid when comes to handling tension-filled situations (notably on the opening scene and the all-hell-breaks-loose climactic finale involving a battle-to-the-death between Hwa and Yu). The cast is also subtle enough, with Simon Yam in his meaty role as a naive and guilt-stricken cop who is very sentimental when comes to loyalty. Although his character feels pathetic, especially the one involving his clear stupidity to fall into Lu's web of vengeance, there is no denying Yam's presence remains engaging enough to root for. Yu Rong-Guang is fine as usual, portraying his sociopathic role with intense sense of aura.

Unfortunately it is that overbearing love story between Hwa and Yung that almost crippled this otherwise solid effort. Likewise, Benny Chan has a soft tendency when comes to romantic moment and that includes the shrill musical montage in some scenarios. The love story is hardly affecting and serves more of an annoying distraction than a necessity to the overall story. It doesn't help either when Christy Chung's performance is firing blanks and looks wooden most of the time.

No comments: