Review: Z STORM Z風暴 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Review: Z STORM Z風暴 (2014)

Despite the starry cast, Z STORM is a big budget disappointment ruined by unremarkable direction, amateurish camerawork and flimsy storyline.

It's been fifteen years since David Lam last directed a feature movie, whose previous credits including 1998's MAGNIFICENT TEAM and 1999's STREET ANGELS (not to be confused with Billy Tang's 1996 similarly-titled movie). And on the surface, Z STORM seems like an appropriate comeback for David Lam since he used to direct an ICAC movie, FIRST SHOT in 1993. However, David Lam fails miserably in Z STORM, which is supposedly one of the most highly-anticipated Hong Kong blockbusters of 2014.

When the battered wife of Superintendent of CCB (Commercial Crime Bureau) Wong Man Bin (Gordon Lam) reported his dirty deeds to ICAC department, he is subsequently brought in for interrogation. However, the ICAC unable to press charges against him due to lack of evidence. Still, ICAC head investigator William Luk (Louis Koo) refuses to give up and continues his investigation further. As Luk digs deeper into the case, he soon realizes that he's not only dealing with the police corruption but also huge financial fraud involving a scheming lawyer (Michael Wong) and retired governor (Felix Lok Ying-Kwan), who both formed a so-called charity fund called "Z Fund".
Louis Koo delivers a typically engaging performance as the no-nonsense ICAC head investigator William Luk while Gordon Lam shines in his slick performance as Superintendent Wong Man Bin. His best moment comes earlier in the movie when he manages to outsmart the two ICAC investigators during the interrogation. Liu Kai-Chi, in the meantime, manages to make good use of his limited appearance as a twitchy private investigator who is hired by Wong Man Bin's wife to investigate her husband.

I was kind of restless throughout the movie, and couldn't find a single memorable moment worth including here.

David Lam looks mostly out of his depth with his rusty direction and despite being blessed with a big budget tag, he does the impossible by turning Z STORM into an average-looking production that looks like it's made for TVB drama. The action is also surprisingly little, with the obligatory car chase and shootout, feels bland and lacking the necessary impact to make them an exciting watch whatsoever. Then there's the surprisingly amateurish camerawork which either feels too static (such as the scene in the interrogation room) or too distracting (what's with all the aggressive zooming effect anyway?). Faring even worse is Anthony Chue's awfully dated score, which feels as if it was lifted from the typical '90s soundtrack library.

Adding further insult is Wong Ho-Wa's poorly-written script. It's a pity that he and David Lam botches a would-be potential premise involving ICAC, bribery, and corruption into a series of shockingly mundane events that is hardly engaging enough to sustain the viewer's interest. It doesn't help also that the pace slacks off whenever the movie tries to deal with some of the characters' personal agendas.

Dada Chan, who plays a mysterious woman somehow connected with Luk's prime suspects, fails to stretch her acting ability other than looking attractive with her sexy appearance. Even when her character is finally revealed as a victim of circumstance, it's hard to pity for her because her acting expression feels largely unconvincing and too manufactured.


Apart from most of its capable cast, Z STORM is overall a huge disappointment. Guess we have to wait longer (if that's going to happen) for a well-worthy ICAC movie in the future.

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