Arrest the Restless

Reviewed by YTSL

As Paul Fonoroff observed in his review of this 1992 work, “The critical and box office success of [1991’s] “To Be Number One” and “Lee Rock” ushered in a new mini-trend in Cantonese cinema: loosely based-on-fact biographies of 1960s-era big shots” (See his “At the Hong Kong Movies: 600 Reviews from 1988 till the Handover”, 1998:226).  In many ways, this atmospheric effort -- which shares the same director (Lawrence Ah Mon) as the two-part 1991 productions that similarly focused on a less than “clean” cop -- is an obvious example of this type of period offerings (that appears to have had its day).  Indeed, its makers’ attempts to ally itself with those two influential films can be seen by their deciding to insert the earlier movies’ leading characters into this later release’s proceedings.

This fact notwithstanding, Gimpy Ho and Lee Rock are but side characters in this movie that asks -- plus seeks to furnish answers as to -- whether a corrupt member of the police force or designated juvenile delinquent is a worse menace to society.  Instead, ARREST THE RESTLESS’s spotlight is trained on a couple of apparently less influential individuals.  This main pair’s adult member is a bribe-seeking, but otherwise honorable, police detective whose re-assignment early in the film to head the Juvenile Section can be seen as a demotion (Sergeant Lam Kong is played by Charles Heung, who also co-produced this offering with his brother Jimmy).  The stylish looking work’s primary “teddy boy” -- whose law-breaking deeds, like those of his “gang” and enemies, fall under “Lam Sir”’s section’s jurisdiction -- is a charmer referred to as Teddy in the effort’s English subtitles but Fei on its Cantonese soundtrack (like with the similarly rebellious, albeit older, personality who Leslie Cheung had memorably essayed two years earlier in “Days of Being Wild”).
In view of Charles Heung’s often coming across as expression-less even when he might not have been trying to appear this way, it comes as a bit of a relief that many of the sections of ARREST THE RESTLESS in which Sergeant Lam Kong takes center-stage also have two of his more lively looking plus acting subordinates figuring in them.  If I am not mistaken, one of them -- the bespectacled Whiz -- actually is portrayed by Fruit Chan (i.e., the director of “Made in Hong Kong” and other critically acclaimed films).  Should this be the case, it constitutes fodder for my contention that this offering’s casting choices -- which also brought Paul Chun Pui (as the corrupt Sergeant in Chief, Ngan Tung), Lee Siu Kei (as Spunky), Henry Fong Ping (as the movie’s lead female character’s record shop owning father), Guk Fung (as a martial arts sifu who also is versed in the healing arts in the tradition of Wong Fei Hung) and Joe Cheung (as the not necessarily completely upright Sir Chow Tung) into the picture -- are among its more interesting aspects.
Additionally, while it might have seemed like a mistake on paper for the then 36 year old Leslie Cheung to be given the role of a juvenile, it is this (re)viewer’s opinion that the boyish faced personality was pretty convincing as a troubled youth.  By the same token, for all of Vivian Chow having had her share of critics, she was suitably fluffy looking and innocent acting as Siu Man -- the gal who Fei loved, yet was apt to forsake whenever his male buddies came calling for help.  Indeed, if I were to single out one person as the weakest member of the cast of ARREST THE RESTLESS, it wouldn’t be its main actress as well as first bill sharing actors or those who are better known for their behind the camera than on screen work.  Instead, the performer in this very nicely lensed (by David Chung) production I’m most inclined to point an accusing finger at would be Deannie Yip (who surely is guilty of over-acting in her portrayal of Fei’s admittedly far from conventional mother).
Admittedly, the veteran actress is accorded few favors by her major debt owing, gambling addict character being -- along with a spoilt brat named Sam Chow (who is Fei’s opposite in many ways, including in terms of family background but also general disposition) -- the most likely to drag down the “teddy boy” about whom Sergeant Lam had seriously opined actually was “a smart kid with a future”; and this despite his own protestations that “I do not think of the future”.  In any event, it can appear to be so that without her character being in the picture, the life of ARREST THE RESTLESS’s most charismatic individual probably would have been less rife with problems and frustrations; and the movie itself -- whose Chinese title apparently is “The Lam Kong Story” -- might, for better or worse, have focused more on the elder of its two main males.

My rating for this film: 6.