I just finished watching two more revenge-themed movies from Hong Kong. One happens to feature my friend Daniel Wu. The other was produced by my pals Conroy Chan and Josie Ho.
Overheard 2 reunites the three principal stars from its predecessor–another white-collar crime thriller involving wiretapping–but in completely new and juicy roles. Lau Ching-Wan is the gifted-but-amoral funds manager whose career was resurrected after he was inducted into an inside-trading ring, while Louis Koo is a cop whose extreme sense of justice has cost him his marriage and his sense of worth. Daniel plays the wild-card who brings the two together, aiming to expose the criminals (who consider themselves patriots fighting for the Chinese economy) while breaking laws left and right and wreaking plenty of havoc himself. Most fans of cinema would probably have been satisfied if co-directors Felix Chong and Alan Mak simply conveyed the financial misdeeds with suspense and style, and developed the twisted bromance triangle between some of Hong Kong’s best actors. Instead, they strive to provide maximum entertainment with a jaw-dropping car chase between a Ferrari and delivery truck, not to mention a motorcycle melee that recalls vintage John Woo. The result is a movie that not only looks great and feels smart but delivers serious fun as well. Bring on Part 3.
Revenge: A Love Story is the follow-up to 852 Films (founded by Conroy, Josie, and Andrew Ooi) production debut Dream Home. It’s another bloody, no-holds-barred Category III flick, but this time giving a polished reboot to vengeance flicks instead of slasher movies. Co-written and starring Juno Mak as a lowly food vendor who is framed by cops and thrown in jail after his troubled girlfriend (Japanese AV actress Sola Aoi) is raped by a police chief, the plot is rather straightforward. However, Mak’s shocking acts of retribution and the expository scenes that follow are presented with exceptional atmosphere and production value. The acting is actually solid, too, but overshadowed by the extreme payback being meted. It goes way beyond gruesome and will challenge the bad taste of the hardest-core audiences. The advertised love story is explored just as capably—although not to the point of brightening the horrifically dark plot. People are cruel, law enforcement is corrupt, and the serial killer’s being in love adds shades of red rather than brightens the screen. It will take a special audience to appreciate Wong Ching-Po’s high-end lowbrow storytelling, but those who can stomach it will be rewarded with uncommonly good filth.
See the trailers of Overheard 2 and Revenge: A Love Story here and here, and then head over to your favorite Chinese shop to track down the somewhat new all-region DVDs or already dated bootlegs. I don’t anticipate these particular features being remade with your favorite gweilo actors.