Review: OVERHEARD 2 竊聽風雲2 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Review: OVERHEARD 2 竊聽風雲2 (2011)

Review: OVERHEARD 2 竊聽風雲2 (2011)

Joe (Daniel Wu) is a mysterious figure with a hidden agenda who eavesdrops on a group of stock fixers called "The Landlord's Club". Among them are Manson Law (Lau Ching-Wan), a highly successful stockbroker, who gradually discovers that he's been under surveillance by Joe. Earlier in the movie, he tries to avoid being followed by Joe but ends up unexpectedly in a car accident. However, he manages to survive. Enter Inspector Jack Ho (Louis Koo), a Security Bureau head officer who begins to investigate the incident and discovers that Manson's sports car which suffered from the crash, is being wired with surveillance device. Soon, the mystery continues as the fate of the three men (Joe, Manson and Jack) intertwines one way or another.

REVIEW: The first OVERHEARD (2009) was a highly-ambitious if half-realised thriller that focuses on the subject of eavesdropping combined with a thought-provoking look at corporate fraud, stock market frenzy and internal characters' conflict. However, it's good to know that directors duo Alan Mak and Felix Chong have finally made a significant improvement over the lacklustre original with an unexpected sequel in OVERHEARD 2. Not only that, it's also a career recovery from their much-disappointed Donnie Yen's period action drama, THE LOST BLADESMAN (you can read my review here), which had shown earlier this year.

Despite the same principal cast and its similar premise about surveillance and the stock market, OVERHEARD 2 is really a sequel in name only. It has no relations to the original version whatsoever. It hardly matters anyway, because OVERHEARD 2 manages to succeed as an equally solid entertainment that Hong Kong cinema needed so badly especially for this lacklustre year. Alan Mak and Felix Chong's screenplay is gripping and airtight than their patchy and slow-moving storyline in the original version. The first half of the movie is especially entertaining, with a classic game of cat and mouse chase between Joe and Jack as they attempt to outwit each other. Another improvement over the original is that the sequel offers more exciting action sequences this time around. Aided by Dion Lam's intense action choreography, there are enough thrilling moments to satisfy the viewers, particularly during the foot-chase sequence on a busy street as well as the motorcycle chase.

Acting is solid as well, with Lau Ching-Wan and Louis Koo gives typically credible performances. But it was Daniel Wu who steals the limelight this time around. No doubt that Wu is perfectly cast in his role and demonstrates enough intensity and nuance to his layered performance. The rest of the supporting actors are equally top-notch as well, and it's nice to see many veteran actors (Kenneth Tsang, Wong Fung, Kong Ngai, Felix Lok and Kwok Fung) are all given ample times to shine with their roles.

Despite all the improvements in OVERHEARD 2, the sequel remains heavily flawed. Till now, Alan Mak and Felix Chong's screenplay and the way of their direction are haphazardly executed. It doesn't help either when their storyline filled with so much backstory and exposition-heavy dialogues that frequently spoon-feed the viewers, even for those who already know what's going on. Such approach often crippled the consistent momentum of the storyline, and it certainly shows during the second half of the movie. The climactic ending, which reveals all the motivation surrounding the mystery of Joe and the stock fixers at "The Landlord's Club", is especially too talky for its own good. In the meantime, the female casts are a bit disappointing, with somewhat thankless roles from Huang Yi and Michelle Ye.

While OVERHEARD 2 is hardly perfect, it still stands out as one of the best Hong Kong movies of the year.

A significant improvement over the half-baked first movie, OVERHEARD 2 may have been protracted in parts but remains entertaining enough with a solid cast, gripping storyline and exciting action scenes.

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