Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of HK Cop Corruption Movie Cold War

Cold War Hair-Off between Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Ka-Fei
I realise it’s been an absolute age now since the Terracotta Far East Film Festival and I have neglected to review the movies I saw – apologies.

Let me remedy that right now with a review of HK cop corruption thriller Cold War directed by Longman Leung and Sunny Luk.  The film stars Chinese Ken doll Aaron Kwok, veteran hard head Tony Leung Ka-Fei and a cameo by Andy Lau appearing as, well, Andy Lau.  I want to say Charlie Yueng features too but she doesn't really, she's just there.
The storyline is pretty weak and a little muddled at times so I won’t bore you with too many of the details, suffice to say Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung KF have different policing methods and a battle of egos ensues.  Meanwhile some master criminal maniac is kidnapping cops and blowing up Hong Kong.  Tony Leung KF provides all the screen magnetism with some superb acting; if the film had been from his POV rather than Kwok’s it would have been more watchable.  Aaron Kwok may have fluttered the hearts of many in the audience but he just isn’t my cup of tea.  I just cannot believe in a character whose hair remains perfectly coiffured after chases, fights and explosions.  When pitted against a veteran HK star such as Tony Leung KF I’m afraid Aaron’s acting just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Like Aaron’s hair the production and art direction of the film are just a little too slick.  Colours are muted and metallic, there are obligatory helicopter shots swooping over HK’s skyline and a totally gratuitous fireworks explosion atop a hotel.  At quite a few points in the film I found myself asking ‘ who is this new character’  and ‘why should I care?’  Not a good sign.

Andy Lau breezes in for a couple of scenes but even his suave charm is not enough to save this movie.  Infernal Affairs it aint.  I would suggest that if you want to see a well-crafted film about police corruption with characters you actually care about then watch the Johnny To movie PTA.  I recently saw this film and loved every moment, there is something to be said for a simple storyline, stripped back action, actors with gravitas such as Simon Yam and Lam Suet (to be fair to Tony Leung KF he is in this bracket too) and of course a brilliant auteur director like Johnny To.

After reading through I feel I have been a bit mean about Aaron Kwok.  I did enjoy him in The Detective, perhaps under different direction he can escape his heart throb Cantopop persona.  I think the blame for this overly coiffured bouffant of a movie can be laid at the doors of Longman Leung and Sunny Luk as they not only directed but wrote the screenplay too.

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