The Suspect

Ringo Lam puts together an intriguing political thriller that is laced with action throughout. This type of film is somewhat unusual for HK as it is rare for their films to delve into the political arena. Not that this one has an agenda and it takes place not in HK, but in the Philippines.

Louis Koo stars as Don Lee a 16-year-old triad punk who gets orders to go to the Philippines and assassinate an enemy of his boss, Brother Hung Ė played by Simon Yam. He accomplishes this, but is caught and spends twelve years in prison. The movie begins when Koo is released, but during his time in prison he has become a changed man and wants nothing to do with his old life. While in prison his only visitor and friend was Julian Cheung Chi-Lam, another disciple of Brother Hung.

Louis Koo
A chauffeured car is waiting for Koo, it takes him to the Presidential Suite at a 5-star hotel, and a beautiful prostitute is waiting for him. Life is looking good. Too good in fact. In the morning the phone rings and it is Brother Hung telling him that the fun is over and that there is a rocket launcher under the bed. He must use it to assassinate a leading political figure who is appearing across the street right at that moment. Koo canít do it, but it turns out his friend is in another room and he can. Koo though becomes the suspect and is soon on the run for much of the film trying to stay alive and prove his innocence.  It is complicated though because he still has feelings of loyalty to his old mentor and to his friend. With the assistance of reporter Ada Choi, Koo stays on the loose .
Julian Cheung
It felt as if Lam didnít have much of a budget to work with, but he is able to create a constant state of tension and there are two large scale action scenes which are terrific Ė great pacing, realistic and excellent camera work.  The film, also, had some twists and good fleshed out characters. The performances from Koo, Cheung, and Yam are very good. In particular I liked Yam. His part is fairly small - we don't see him until the 50 minute mark - but even though he is a cold blooded manipulative political figure (one interesting side story is Yam trying to raise anti-Chinese sentiment among the electorate to help his candidate), he still shows great loyalty and concern for his protégé, Cheung. It makes him very human for a few moments.
Simon Yam wishing he had been a nicer guy