Review: OVERHEARD 3 竊聽風雲3 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Review: OVERHEARD 3 竊聽風雲3 (2014)

OVERHEARD 3 has its fair share of good acting and engaging moments, but not enough to offset its overstuffed and overlong direction.

For the past two movies, writer-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong has approached OVERHEARD (2009) and OVERHEARD 2 (2011) with the same theme but different stories of stock-fixing and corporate frauds. However, in this third and final chapter of the OVERHEARD franchise, it's a refreshing change of pace to see them shift focus from the usual subject matter to shady property syndicates.

OVERHEARD 3 opens with a brief black-and-white prologue explaining how every male heir of each native family in Hong Kong's New Territories are granted the land right to build a house. This particular right is called "Ding Rights". Then along came Uncle To (Kenneth Tsang), a powerful tycoon who join forces with corrupted Chinese businessman Wan (Huang Lei) as well as To's four right-hand men, the Luk brothers -- Keung (Lau Ching-Wan), Fu (Fong Chung-Sun), Paul (Lam Ka-Tung) and Chuck (Lam Ka-Wah) -- to cheat the New Territories' village landowners and develop luxury apartments to sell out for huge profits.

When Jau (Louis Koo) is released after serving five years in prison for killing a property owner (Chin Ka-Lok) in a car accident, he teams up with former prison mate Joe (Daniel Wu), a computer genius and surveillance expert, to bring down Keung and his brothers at all cost.
The subject matter, which deals with property syndicates, is both timely and fresh. Kudos also goes to Alan Mak and Felix Chong for integrating the subject matter with popular themes such as betrayal, brotherhood, greed, and corruption. The result is gripping, especially the way some of the characters turn against each other for the sake of their own benefits.

Not to forget also is the surveillance aspect of the movie, at which Alan Mak and Felix Chong manages to find a way to intensify the scenes with a mix of dramatic flair and humourous approach.

As in OVERHEARD and OVERHEARD 2, this third chapter still retains some of the franchise's best assets from its strong A-list cast. The same trio from the previous two movies: Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu deliver worthwhile performances as usual. The supporting casts, ranging from Kenneth Tsang, Lam Ka-Tung, Lam Ka-Wah and Michelle Ye, are equally effective. But to me, I must say Fong Chung-Sun's flamboyant performance as the ill-mannered Fu and Zhou Xun's notable low-key turn as the hardworking widow Moon, are the best of the bunch. Another worthy of praise here is Zhou Xun's impressive credibility for speaking her own Cantonese dialogue convincingly.

There are plenty of tense moments, but surprisingly none of them are particularly qualified as a standout.

At 130 minutes, I can't just help it but feel the movie is draggy all over the place, particularly during the middle section. Despite its strong central themes, Alan Mak and Felix Chong's screenplay still suffers from overly convoluted and likewise, expository-heavy approach. Certain scenes are either long-winded or poorly developed while it's a huge surprise that OVERHEARD 3 falls very short in the action department. And speaking about the action, the climactic finale involving THE WHITE STORM-like car crashes in a scrapyard fails to engage much.

Despite the fine ensemble cast, some of the actors fail to leave a lasting or least worthwhile impression. For instance, it's totally wasted to see a veteran actor like Chin Ka-Lok only relegated as a thankless cameo. And the worst of all comes from Huang Yi who is barely there with her non-existent performance as Fu's cheating wife.


If to compare with OVERHEARD and OVERHEARD 2, this third chapter is easily the weakest entry which fails to capitalize its fullest potential to end the franchise on a high note. As a standalone movie though, it's fairly modest as a dramatic thriller. 

No comments: