Review: THE VIRAL FACTOR 逆戰 (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Review: THE VIRAL FACTOR 逆戰 (2012)

Review: THE VIRAL FACTOR 逆戰 (2012)

High octane action takes centre stage in Dante Lam's THE VIRAL FACTOR, which also marks his most expensive movie yet (at a whopping HK$200 million budget). Even though the plot takes a backseat this time (a forte that Dante Lam excels greatly 2010's award-winning THE STOOL PIGEON), THE VIRAL FACTOR is a solidly entertaining blockbuster that promises a lot of firepower equivalent with the one often found in Hollywood action trappings.

REVIEW: The opening scene already starts with an explosive bang, as we witness International Security Affairs agent Jon Man (Jay Chou) gets caught in an ambush during a botched operation escorting a bacteriologist Kenner from Jordan to Norway after being betrayed and shot by his agent-in-charge Sean (Andy On), who wants a deadly virus sample for personal gain. The ambush also leaves Jon's girlfriend Ice (Bai Bing) dead, and Jon himself suffers an internal injury where a bullet is lodged inside his head. With two weeks left to live, he wastes little time to spend his remaining days visiting his ailing mother (Elaine Jin) back in Beijing, who later reveals to him that he has a long-lost brother, Man Yeung (Nicholas Tse) she abandoned during the same time she also dumped her gambler husband, Man Tin (Liu Kai-Chi) more than 20 years ago.

After knowing the truth, Jon decides to track Man Yeung down in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he gradually discovers that Man Yeung is actually a wanted criminal recently escaped from a local court. Apparently, Man Yeung is also part of the elaborate crime syndicate organised by Sean where he is hired alongside a local corrupt cop (Patrick Keung) in charge to kidnap a virus specialist Rachel (Lin Peng), who is coincidentally on the same flight with Jon en route to Kuala Lumpur. As Jon continues his own investigation, he manages to track down his father who lives with Yeung's estranged daughter Champ (Crystal Lee). As the heated conflict rises to an eventual breaking point, Jon is subsequently reunited with Man Yeung and join forces together after Champ and Rachel are ended up being kidnapped by Sean and his men.

Dante Lam, Candy Leung and Jack Ng's screenplay is a standard-issue plot spliced together with a heavily melodramatic subplot. Those who are expecting the same psychological depth found in 2008's BEAST STALKER, 2010's FIRE OF CONSCIENCE and again, THE STOOL PIGEON, will be disappointed by lacklustre storytelling approach here.

However, the movie still works best when comes to a few emotionally-charging scenes while the actors rise above the occasion with some top-notch performances. Nicholas Tse gives a typically intense performance as a hardened criminal who steals the show each time he appears and he's certainly an engaging screen presence to watch for. In the meantime, anyone who is sceptical with Lam's choice to include Jay Chou in the lead performance will be finally surprised how Chou has improved a lot in his otherwise lacklustre acting skills. Kudos should go to Lam for pairing Chou and Tse as long-lost siblings, where they certainly act well together. The supporting cast, including Liu Kai-Chi, Elaine Jin and young Crystal Lee notches up a few acting credibility n their emotionally intense performances.

But what really makes the movie compulsively watchable is its well-crafted action sequences. Designed by Dante Lam himself and perfectly choreographed by Chin Kar-Lok, the action is fast and furious. While Lam still favours his trademark shaky-cam techniques every now and then, at least cinematographer Kenny Tse knows how to work to its certain advantages while maximises the large-scale action sequences with wide angle, swooping camera works and a few spectacular helicopter shots. Peter Kam's music score is just as intense, even though there are times it feels overbearing. Another special mention for Lam is how well he make full use of our Kuala Lumpur setting as a perfectly ideal place for an action movie, where our local mainstream filmmakers should really take note. Aided by Chung Wai-Chiu's relentless editing, the pace is nonstop -- whether it's an explosive gunfight at the congested traffic in Jalan Raja Chulan, a spectacular car chase through the Pavilion shopping mall, a foot chase at KL Sentral, or a helicopter chase over KLCC area -- as Lam goes all-out, especially in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle, like nobody's business.

THE VIRAL FACTOR is certainly a must-see for any action-movie fans this Chinese New Year season.

While the plot takes a backseat this time around, Dante Lam redeems its shortcoming with plenty of rousing large-scale action scenes and an engaging cast led by Nicholas Tse and Jay Chou.

1 comment:

The Strategist said...

Ooooooo macam ini la! Jom kita pergi letupkan Putrajaya for the upcoming movies!