Devil Face, Angel Heart

Reviewed by YTSL

Back in 1998, the photogenic duo of Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung appeared together in fashion photographer turn film-maker Yonfan’s visual treats filled “Bishonen...”.  One year later, they were a part of the cabal of “Young Turk” performers on view in Benny Chan’s “Gen X Cops”.  Three years on, these two young actors top the bill -- along with Gigi Lai -- of this crime drama helmed by a director who -- by way of some of his previous efforts being “Love to Kill” (a 1993 Category III effort that had Anthony Wong portraying the wife-abuser spouse of Elizabeth Lee’s much put upon character) and “Lady Supercop” (a 1993 Carina Lau action vehicle that boasts a dental torture scene that puts the one in “The Marathon Man” to shame) -- might be said to be as associated with ugly imagery as Yonfan is with beautiful ones.

Daniel Wu and Gigi Lai
Considering that Billy Chung was the occupant of the 2002 effort’s driver’s seat, it should not come as that much of a surprise that DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART does possess its share of unattractive aspects and moments.  This includes a villainous character named Dragon (portrayed by Patrick Keung) whose sadism manifests itself by way of his liking to do such as subject the woman described as his “concubine” to nightly bouts of -- heard but unseen by the movie’s viewers -- torturous sex, and further lack of heart can be seen by his insensitively commanding someone whose face he does not like to keep it turned away from him when in his presence.  Additionally, we have in this badly English subtitled Wong Jing production a lead female character (a vulnerable looking, trouble causing individual played by Gigi Lai) whose many questionable actions cause her to be described by another female as “a goddam (sic.) freaky bitch” plus prompt the suggestion that “Wendy is the creepiest creature on earth”.
Lam Suet and Patrick Keung
Alternatively, Daniel Wu does not portray a disfigured character for all -- or even most -- of DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART like one might have expected in view of the nature of the advance publicity that this offering had received.  Instead, the professional killer(s) he plays goes, over the course of the film, from having the kind of visage that’s capable of giving people nightmares to the more familiar, handsome one of a man whose cinematic popularity seems to be derived as much more from his willingness to take off his shirt -- and allow one of his “points” to be sucked for what seemed like eternity on screen (in this at times seemingly lovingly filmed work by an actress named Joey Wong but is NOT the one of “A Chinese Ghost Story” fame) -- as through whatever amount of dramatic ability that I reckon that he does also possess.
Daniel Wu and Joey Wong
Early on in DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART, Daniel Wu’s character’s name is given as (Ah) Long and it also is revealed that he and his elder brother ((Ah) Kwan, who is essayed by Lam Suet), are in the hazardous employ of a gangster boss known as Dragon.  As Dragon’s moll, Wendy, discloses to Long, he and the one member of his family who did not abandon him are the latest of a long line of hit-men who Dragon has had on theoretically lucrative short term contracts.  After the abused woman and the “devil faced” -- but supposedly also “angel hearted” -- assassin seemed to have won each other’s trust as well as sympathy, she reveals to him that Dragon -- and his chief assistant, Jimmy (who is played by Conroy Chan) -- appear to have successfully seen to it that all of his hired hands never survive the mandated three months in his employ that would allow them to claim their rewards plus walk away from it all, and also that she would love to see Dragon get his just plus fatal desserts, Long decides to solve their problems by ridding the world of his nasty boss.
Stephen Fung and Kelly Lin
An opportunity for him to do so arises when the men go -- albeit minus Wendy -- on a “business” trip to Taiwan.  As it turns out though, their Taiwanese sojourn turns out to be opportunity filled for more than one individual.  And when the (gun) smoke finally clears (from locations as disparate as a crowded hostess club and a quiet pier), more than one person has been betrayed and is dead.  Among the casualties of this carnage appeared to be the often hooded or cloaked individual named Long.  In any case, after DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART fast forwards to one year after the taking place of these violent events (whose action director seemed to have gone to town with his use of squibs galore!), the character essayed by Daniel Wu is newly seen to radiate sex appeal as well as be good looking plus gets identified as a fellow in the employ of Dragon’s successors named Michael rather than Long.
David Lee, Conroy Chan and Gigi
So...does Daniel Wu play two different and unrelated individuals in this not always 100% logical -- plus consequently pretty far fetched in places -- mood piece?  Perhaps it might be best for me to leave it to the reader to guess and/or find out by way of their going and watching DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART.  At the same time, I think it fair to reveal that, despite his having received prominent billing in the credits of this production that’s not without certain stylish flourishes, Stephen Fung does not have half as prominent a part to play in the film as the actor whose hair was shorter than his in “Bishonen...” but now is threatening to approach the length of Ekin Cheng’s.  Similarly, Sam Lee (who portrays Stephen Fung’s character’s plainclothes policeman partner), Kelly Lin (whose role is that of the sympathetic cop’s loving girlfriend) and the under-rated as well as -utilized David Lee (as yet another sadistic hoodlum, this one with the moniker of Bull) don’t look to have spent more than two days (or nights) working on this movie, and consequently can be considered largely blameless for it being as disappointingly mediocre as it is.

My rating for the film: 5.5.