A prostitute is found murdered in a room at the
Paramount Motel one of those places where the men cover their faces as
they go in and out and where the sheets are changed more often than a young
girls mind. A top police investigator is given the case and he attaches
himself to it with the relentlessness and ferocity of a steel trap. What
initially looks to be a simple investigation turns into a dark exploration
of corruption that reaches into the police department itself.
Ignore the cheap horror/slasher looking cover
of the DVD since this film is in fact a terrifically hard driving and well-paced
police procedural film directed by Billy Chung. Chung keeps the story focused
throughout and utilizes just enough noir like stylistic flourishes quick
dissolving flashbacks, off kilter camera angles, off setting tinted colors
and harsh close ups to keep it interesting but never distracting. He
also gets excellent performances from all involved no one over plays
their character and in particular a superb one from Simon Loui as the
dedicated and at times brutal investigating officer. Loui wrote this script
as well and created a memorable character for himself.
Loui starts questioning the friends of the dead
woman, Pauline Chan, in order to put context around her life. He learns
from the mute hotel clerk, Samuel Leung, that she was thinking about getting
out of the business and from her friend, Pinky Cheung, that she had recently
fallen for a guy, Jason Chu, who was trying to scam her out of her money.
The owner of the hotel, Ada Choi, knew Pauline as well, but seemingly has
little to add. All of the illicit threads seem to lead to the malevolent
Mr. Sun, played by Ti Lung, a powerful businessman with his fingers in
lots of illegal activities. Sun is untouchable though and when Loui attempts
to push closer he is called off the case. While pursuing the investigation,
Loui also has to deal with his wife, Fennie Yuen, who he learns from private
eye, Cheung Tat-ming, is cheating on him with fellow police officer, Wayne
Lai. Like a wounded bulldog though, he just continues to press on with
the murder investigation. He approaches his job with a Sgt. Joe Friday
directness - "just the facts Ma'am", but I can't recall any Dragnet episode
in which Friday ties up a suspect and pulls out his teeth with a pair of
pliers until he talked.
The film takes on a serious tone that it keeps
for the entirety of the narrative and is only marred by an ending that
felt almost tacked on and out of place. Though low budget in almost every
way, Chung and Loui show that a well-written and well-acted film can be
a real pleasure - low budget or not.
My rating for this film: 7.0
Distributed by WideSight
The transfer is fairly decent - clean if not
crisp and a bit muted.
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
The subtitles are burnt on Chinese and English.
This is pretty barebones - no extras at all.