Hong Kong/China, 2010, colour, 2.35:1, 117 mins.
Director: Er Dongsheng 尔冬升 [Derek Yee].
Cat-and-mouse crime game starts promisingly but then goes off the rails from its midpoint.
Hong Kong, the present day. Wealthy currency trader Guan Youbo (Gu Tianle) narrowly beats SDU police officer Zhuang Ziwei (Wu Yanzu) in a marksmanship competition, much to the latter’s chagrin. Driving home, Guan Youbo comes across an armed robbery of a security van in which investment bank manager Fang Zhihe (Lin Xue) is transporting US$400 million in bearer bonds. Guan Youbo shoots three of the four robbers but the fourth, Peng Tao (Du Wenze), escapes and a motorcycle policeman who happens by is critically wounded. The bonds have disappeared. Guan Youbo is hailed as a hero by press and public but Zhuang Ziwei insists on bringing him to trial for manslaughter and unlawful public use of a weapon. Supported by his boss Shao Anna (Li Bingbing) – who’s also in love with him, despite the fact he has a loyal girlfriend, hospital nurse Tingting (Cai Zhuoyan) – Guan Youbo is acquitted, but is later attacked at his home by the vengeful Peng Tao. Meanwhile, Zhuang Ziwei, suspecting everything is not exactly as it seems, consults retired police friend and former marksman Miao Zhishun (Fang Zhongxin), who’s also a whizz at criminal psychology.
Ten years after Double Tap 枪王 (2000), Er Dongsheng 尔冬升 [Derek Yee], who co-wrote the original, aims to go one better with Triple Tap 枪王之王, the only connection being a battle-of-wits between private and police marksmen and a cameo by Fang Zhongxin 方中信 [Alex Fong Chung-sun] in the same latter role. Actor-turned-director Er has made at least one gripping crime drama (One Nite in Mongkok 旺角黑夜, 2004) in a career that’s embraced several genres, but Triple Tap isn’t nearly on the same level. Double was more notable for the late Zhang Guorong 张国荣 [Leslie Cheung] playing an unhinged sharpshooter than for anything else, and Triple, despite a promising first half and handsome production values, falls well below the original movie.
Part of the problem lies in the screenplay, which gives the game away halfway after setting up an intriguing mystery, and also provides feeble roles for Mainland actress Li Bingbing 李冰冰, as an outwardly tough but inwardly love-sick currency trader, and especially Hong Kong’s Cai Zhuoyan 蔡卓妍 [Charlene Choi], as a meek nurse-cum-girlfriend. And despite all the early talk of criminal psychology, there’s no sense in the second half of a real cat-and-mouse game between the two male leads. In this respect, the miscasting of Gu Tianle 古天乐 [Louis Koo], at his most perma-tanned wooden, and Wu Yanzu 吴彦祖 [Daniel Wu], projecting little physicality as a tough cop, is also to blame: hardly a spark crosses between them, despite some interesting dialogue exchanges and the initial set-up of Wu’s character being miffed at losing to Gu’s in a marksmanship competition. Fang’s cameo role brings a fleeting mellowness to the film, but unfortunately includes an over-cooked scene in which he mind-melds with the criminal. By then, however, the plot is already running off the rails towards its weedy finale.
Presented by Emperor Classic Films (HK), Bona Entertainment (CN), Sil-Metropole Organisation (HK), Shanghai East Media Group (CN). Produced by Film Unlimited (HK).
Script: Er Dongsheng [Derek Yee], Qin Tiannan, Liu Haoliang. Photography: Pan Yaoming [Anthony Pun]. Editing: Kuang Zhiliang. Music: Jin Peida [Peter Kam]. Production design: Wen Nianzhong [Man Lim-chung]. Costume design: Wen Nianzhong [Man Lim-chung]. Sound: Chen Zhijian, Liang Zhida, Nopawat Likitwong, Traithep Wongpaiboon. Action: Qian Jiale [Chin Ka-lok], Huang Weihui. Car stunts: Wu Haitang. Second unit photography: Chen Guoxiong.
Cast: Gu Tianle [Louis Koo] (Guan Youbo/Ken), Wu Yanzu [Daniel Wu] (Zhuang Ziwei/Jerry, police inspector), Cai Zhuoyan [Charlene Choi] (Tingting, Guan Youbo’s girlfriend), Li Bingbing (Shao Anna, Guan Youbo’s boss), Du Wenze [Chapman To] (Peng Tao), Fang Zhongxin [Alex Fong Chung-sun] (Miao Zhishun), Lin Xue [Lam Suet] (Fang Zhihe, bonds manager), Lian Kai (Xu Weiguo, traffic policeman), Wang Minde [Michael Wong] (Jiang), Yang Ling (Joyce, Xu Weiguo’s wife), Lv Jie, Deng Dexiang, Chen Wanghua, Huang Zixong, Yuan Bao, Sun Limin, Xu Jinfeng, He Jiyou, Meng Long, Chen Jialiang, Huang Kaisen, Zhu Zuquan, Yi Tianxiong.
Release: Hong Kong, 1 Jul 2010; China, 2 Jul 2010.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 27 Aug 2010.)