28 February 2008 | Adorable
Not a deadly mistake by a long shot
There's no guarantee in life that another day means another dollar, but you can pretty much count on a new Simon Yam movie coming along. And here he is again in a triad story, but don't let the fact bring you down or put you off: this is actually a cool movie, marrying as it does serious underworld scheming with fantasy violence. It's kind of like the Infernal Affairs trilogy condensed and on crack.
Fatal Move is a Category III for violence only and it's indeed relatively bloody, even if much of the gore is cheap CGI. This is no Hostel, but nonetheless the body count is impressive and the range of physical outrages quite extensive, including one torture scene where Simon not only says it's pain time, but also does most of the inflicting in person.
The result of all this bears some similarity to last summer's Invisible Target, although Fatal Move isn't as compelling or refreshing, nor are its characters quite as appealing. It also has crooks masquerading as cops, a raid on a police station and a SWAT/SDU team being made fools of, and does possess considerable talent in addition to Yam, we get Sammo Hung and Wu Jing, both very capable performers, albeit not in their strongest outings here. This is especially true for Wu Jing, whose looney-aggressive act appears lifted directly from SPL, only not as sincere. Sammo gets very little time to show off his moves, yet does well as clan leader Lin Ho Lung, a veteran criminal who for once bothers with differentiating between "triad" and "mafia", a point rarely noted on the big screen.
The story begins with Boss Lin celebrating the birth of his first son, and all's well his deputies Ah Tung (Simon Yam) and Tin Hung (Wu Jing) seem to have things under control, while his female right hand person Soso (Tien Niu) maintains the books balanced and the money flowing in.
This being a triad actioner, calm isn't the primary directive, and quickly things go sour as internal conniving and treachery become the order of the day on top of pressure from ever-present cops, led by Danny Lee as Inspector Liu, and with Lam Suet throwing in a cameo for some tragic-comic relief.
Soon the choppings, sword slashings, bludgeoning and outright gunning down of cronies by the van load commence, accompanied by a rather convoluted string of double-dealing and treachery that affects all involved parties. Although this means the characters aren't totally flat and do have motivations, this facet of the story is left somewhat under-developed and thus results in mild confusion. As a consequence, the ending, which has a couple of supposed stunner-twists, fails to stuff the bucket, as they say, instead coming across as a bit of a red herring in fancy evening wear. This applies to many parts of Fatal Move even at two hours it still feels cut in many instances, like they had to remove scenes at the last minute or something.
Overall, Director Law (who did Fatal Contact before, also with Wu Jing) supervised a competent project here. This is a worthy addition to an already heavily populated herd of jiang hu flicks, and Fatal Move is all-told a memorable and visceral release that's unlikely to go down as a classic despite being a solid viewing with a healthy dose of both Election-like gangland politics and comic book hyperbole. We'd say go for it, it's one move you'll live to not regret.