Wednesday, February 13, 2019


This was the movie I intended to see Friday night only to wind up at Arctic, and while I was initially annoyed at all the weekend shows being canceled, it turns out to be a not-awful decision; The Wandering Earth put a lot of butts in seats and there wound up being just a handful of us at this Tuesday night show. Of course, it was also a Tuesday night where we'd just gotten some actual snow on the ground, so people were staying inside anyway. I've got no idea if the lack of visibility over the weekend hurt it, but from what I can see on Fandango, this won't be around come Friday, or maybe even Thursday, considering the Valentine's openings (including another Chinese film).

One thing I noticed was that, despite this being a Hong Kong film, the listings had it in Mandarin and to my rather untrained ears, it certainly didn't exactly sound like Cantonese. There may have been some minor lip-sync issues as a result, too, although I am quite capable of driving myself nuts over that to a degree completely out of proportion with the actual issue. It makes me wonder, a bit, if this cut was different than the Hong Kong one, as it's supposedly the start of a trilogy and it feels exceptionally tied-up at the end.

Lian zheng feng yun (Integrity)

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 12 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #19 (first-run, DCP)

Integrity is the movie that took the biggest hit around here to make room for more screenings of The Wandering Earth (this didn't actually play until Monday despite showtimes listed starting Friday) and it turns out that's fair. This movie is a dull alleged thriller that gets more excitement out of the appearance that it will lazily use tired plot twists than anything it actually does.

As it opens, Independent Commission Against Corruption investigator King Chan (Sean Lau Ching-wan) is preparing whistleblower Jack Hui (Nick Cheung Ka-fai) to testify against employer Chan Chui Kwan (Lam Wai) and border officer Chung Ka-ling (Anita Yuen Wing-yee) in a case of smuggled cigarettes and bribery. Jack presents King with a USB drive full of documents that hint at a much larger conspiracy, but when the hearing comes, both Jack and Chan Chui Kwan have fled. Jack is tracked to Australia, so ICAC sends negotiator Shirley Chan (Karena Lam Ka-yan) - also King's ex-wife - to convince him to return, while King and his team attempt to build a case that will survive even if Jack doesn't return and reveal the mastermind behind the scenes.

One can't necessarily say that this sounds exciting - it's a lot of arcana about Hong Kong's taxes on tobacco, market manipulation to hide payments, and, crap, now they're talking about Bitcoin - but people have built good thrillers out of people lying about even less consequential things. In this case, shockingly little actually happens; the film starts by having any clever sleight-of-hand happen off-screen and seldom actually doles out the sort of information that makes the viewer want to follow a trail. There's an on-screen countdown of the seven days' extension granted ICAC by the judge that never seems to indicate time passing or urgency, and it's worth noting that there may not be a night scene in the entire film, making it feel like nobody ever has to work late on this supposedly important case. There are vague threats of dangers and masterminds but never any sign of them closing in until a couple random bits of violence happen without feeling like they've changed anything. All the manoeuvring toward the start counts for naught, and the script does a bad job of figuring out what to hint at and what to save for later.

Full review on EFilmCritic

No comments: