Thursday, July 19, 2007


INVISIBLE TARGET (action thriller)
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Jaycee Chan, Wu Jing and Andy On
Director: Benny Chan
Time: 128 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Shawn Yue and Nicholas Tse
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? As far as action thrillers are concerned, Hollywood's forte seems to be in 'computer-assisted' stunts while Hong Kong film-makers still rely on hard knocks and physical visuals. While Benny Chan's "Invisible Target" has as many explosions and car crashes as, say, "Die Hard 4.0", it is the physical stunts like jumping over buildings and
plunging a few floors to the ground, that keep our adrenaline pumping overtime. Could the 'Target' of the title refer to the competition from Hollywood?

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? As expected, director Chan opens right smack in the action - a gang of Vietnamese siblings stages an armoured truck robbery outside a jewellery shop where a young woman is busy selecting her engagement ring. The robbery goes awry, the armoured vehicle is blown up and many are killed - including the woman in the gems shop.Six months later, HK cop Chan Chun (Nicholas Tse) is still feeling the effects of that US$100 million heist - that woman in the jewellery shop was his fiancee. Need we say he vows revenge? Need we say that the Viet gang is also back - to settle a score with those who betrayed them and took off with the loot?Before we get down to unravelling the plot, some introductions are in order and we meet Fong Yik-Wei (Shawn Yue), an experienced detective whose working style is 'hit first, ask questions later', and Wai King-Ho (Jaycee Chan), a police constable who still believes in upholding the law, no matter what happens. Somehow, Chan Chun teams up with these two cops to hunt down the gang led by the vicious Tien Yeng-seng (Wu Jing) who discovers that someone 'very high up the social ladder' has sold him out.

THE HIGHS & LOWS: I am happy to note that with so much action and stunts in the works, Benny Chan still takes time to develop his characters and even throw in the little details (like a caring but suspicious grandma). Yes, some of the action sequences, especially the brawl in the cafetaria, are rather unnecessary, but Chan manages to utilise them for comic relief and to show how the three get to bond with one another. Gradually, in between the seat-gripping action, we get to learn more about the cops and even the robbers. Indeed, one of the gangsters explains to King-Ho that he does what he does because he was brought up that way - in a dog-eat-dog world. And he even gets to die like a hero!
The one big flaw of the movie is its preoccupation with brutal scenes of punishment. Jaycee's role here reminds me of his father, Jackie Chan, in the 80s when his characters always got thrashed relentlessly. Now the son seems to be in the same school of hard knocks and broken noses.Like in most action movies, logic gaps abound, and don't bother to think about the mechanics of the plot. They don't may much sense.

THE LOWDOWN: Just enjoy the action and look forward to the next Benny Chan effort.


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