Heaven of Hope
The star power of Anthony Wong and Sam Lee are
completely wasted in this effort that left me with a rancid taste in my
mouth. I am not entirely clear why. It is certainly unpleasant from the
opening credits (a rape) unto the final frame (blood flowing under a door)
– but I have been there before in HK films. I think it is more the way
in which the film has such a negative unsympathetic viewpoint about the
characters. Practically every character is made to look either evil or
easily victimized or foolish. It is just an ugly portrait of the human
Anthony Wong (called Priest here) is an ex-triad
and ex-drug user who now counsels juvenile drug offenders at a rehabilitation
center. He preaches Christianity to the kids of which they understand nothing.
His 15-year old daughter has been missing for two months and he has seemingly
done nothing about it until he gets a call from the cops telling him that
they have the body of a dead girl with his daughter’s cell phone. It turns
out not to be his girl, but this finally spurs him into looking for her.
Here the film could have gotten interesting
if it had been done with more focus and a much more intelligent script.
It reminded me a bit of the film Hardcore when George C. Scott goes looking
for his missing daughter among the underground sex industry of Los Angeles,
but it just never rises to the opportunity. Wong’s search takes him into
the world of raves, drugs, under age prostitution and nasty triads who
are exploiting all these pathetic lives.
Here Wong comes into contact with Sam Lee who
is as nasty a bit of work as one can imagine. He abuses his girlfriends
– trying to get them into prostitution – and is willing to kill at the
request of his big boss – Brother Cool (Wong Ka-lok/Jimmy Wong). Wong keeps
digging about and finally Brother Cool decides to teach Wong a lesson.
Wong then decides it is finally time to put aside his Christian beliefs
regarding non-violence and resort to what he learned in his triad days.
There is a fair amount of brutal violence – but
again it is more the total lack of empathy the film has for any of the
characters that makes this less than likable. On top of that the production
values and pacing of the film are not particularly good. As the only saving
grace, at least Wong does give us his patented psycho look!
My rating for this film: 4.0