Review: THE STOOL PIGEON 線人 (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Review: THE STOOL PIGEON 線人 (2010)

Review: THE STOOL PIGEON 線人 (2010)

The title of THE STOOL PIGEON refers as informant, and at the beginning, we learn the fate of an informant Jabber (Liu Kai-Chi) who ends up being exposed his true identity after a botched operation goes awry. Jabber became so paranoid and scared stiff that he spends most of his time looking insane and lives like a beggar. Inspector Don Lee (Nick Cheung), who is responsible for the case, feels guilty of causing Jabber's unlikely consequence. A year later, he is out to recruit a new informant and this is where a jailed driver Ghost Jr. (Nicholas Tse) comes in. At first Ghost Jr. is reluctant to join Don, but he forced to do so especially after he discovered his sister works a prostitute to pay off their dead father's debt. With a handsome reward of money, Ghost Jr. is required to work undercover to infiltrate a gang of jewel thieves lead by Tai Ping (Keung Ho-Man) and Barbarian (Lu Yi). But it's not without a series of complications when Tai Ping's girlfriend Dee (Kwan Lunmei) ends up falling in love with Ghost Jr.

REVIEW: Forget about FIRE OF CONSCIENCE, which proved to be an underwhelming effort for acclaimed director Dante Lam. But he quickly rebound with this excellent crime thriller, THE STOOL PIGEON, which in turn, earns its spot as one of the best movies of the year. Never mind the fact that Lam assembles most of his familiar cast (Nick Cheung, Nicholas Tse and Liu Kai-Chi), reshuffled their characters with role reversals, and revisited the same crime thriller with conflicted moral underpinning that almost recalled the similarity of his award-winning BEAST STALKER (2008). What is never quite worked in BEAST STALKER has definitely improved by leaps and bounds in his latest movie here. To cut long story short, THE STOOL PIGEON is most qualified as Dante Lam's best directorial effort since BEAST COPS (1998).

As far as crime thriller goes, Jack Ng and Dante Lam's screenplay is nothing new and particularly refreshing. In fact everything about this movie is tried-and-true formula. Only this time the story is airtight, thought-provoking and well-told. We learn the inner conflict between Inspector Don Lee and Ghost Jr. and feel their tortured souls deep within. Inspector Don Lee's backstory, in particular, which involved him trying to rekindle his lost love with a crippled dance instructor (Miao Pu) is especially heartbreaking. Then there's top-notch acting powerhouse which anchored most of the movie here. Nick Cheung delivers an emotionally dynamic performance as the pained Inspector Don Lee who is riddled with guilt vows to seek redemption, only to find himself sinking down into a sea of despair as the movie progresses. Nicholas Tse is similarly excellent here, while the rest of the supporting cast are all equally solid (particularly the female counterparts in the form Kwan Lunmei and Miao Pu). Even Liu Kai-Chi who mostly overacts his insane role here still deserved a credit to pull off his act with juicy result hard to ignore.

Not to forget also is Lam's ever-kinetic direction when comes to delivering action sequences. Likewise, the action is brutal and exciting, particularly in the middle section involving a chase between Ghost Jr. and Dee against a bunch of police officers and the climactic violent school-set showdown.

While the movie could have cut down for its ever-annoying shaky cam presence, THE STOOL PIGEON remains highly recommended. Hong Kong cinema definitely needs more quality movie like this.

THE STOOL PIGEON is one of the best Dante Lam's crime thrillers in a long while, which also featured Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse at the top of their games here.

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