The Incorruptible

Reviewed by YTSL

If my memory serves me right, it's Sammo Hung (Lest we forget, he is currently starring in an American TV series, "Martial Law", after years of being a Hong Kong moviemaker) who said of Hollywood and Hong Kong something to the effect of:  "They steal from us, we steal from them".  One look at this 1993 effort's protagonist -- a square jawed (seemingly squarer jawed even than Kevin Costner!) hero whose attire and posture immediately brings to mind Elliot Ness -- will render it obvious that this lush looking 1950s period piece seeks to be the Eastern version of the "The Untouchables".

Ray Liu plays THE INCORRUPTIBLE Inspector Lee who leads the Royal Hong Kong Police efforts to crack down on the illegal businesses run by the triads.  His specialist team includes:  A capable father or uncle figure-like second in command; a dedicated policeman whose love for busting bad guys is only rivaled by that for alcohol; an eager to please and impress rookie; and two older detectives who seem jaded at best and in the employ of gangsters at worst.  His superior officer seems to be the very epitome of the colonial British man.  If the reader feels like these characters sound really stereotypical, (s)he would be right with regards to the reviewer's essential opinion of them.  On a more complimentary note though, at least three of these are given some credibility by those who portray them (notably the energetic Simon Yam but also a suitably restrained Ng Man Tat and the unknown -- to me -- actor who plays the worldly Sergeant).

Waise Lee gives a strong performance as the main villain, also named Lee(!), in this crime drama.  His (alas, too few) scenes with Carrie Ng -- who lights up the screen in the supporting role of his tragic songstress lover -- contain whatever feelings and thoughts are appropriate for such to have during those kinds of moments and interactions.  Anita Yuen also appears in this movie as Detective Lee's loving wife.  However, it should be noted -- especially for fans of Ng and Yuen -- that THE INCORRUPTIBLE is definitely a male-dominated and -focused film.

My main gripe with this offering though is that it just feels so predictable.  Though there are fairly intriguing subplots and a few scenes that are aimed at character development as well as story setup, THE INCORRUPTIBLE is generally too straightforward and simply and familiarly? -- outlined to be all that exciting or memorable. Alternatively put:  This is a solid production; but it definitely is not an inspired work.  If only the good guys were as complexly drawn as the leading criminal of this piece (and the supporting women given as much screen time as the other members of the supporting cast.  Okay, granted that this may be my particular bias but if they are going to be there in the picture, then do more things with them!)...As it is, it is rather ironic -- as well as disappointing -- that a movie with such a richly colored visual palette is such a pale version of the Hollywood hit it obviously tried to structurally as well as stylistically emulate.

My rating for the film:  6.5.