Saturday, April 06, 2019

P Storm

I didn't realize just how fast these were coming out, with the prior movie just hitting screens last year. That sort of quick turnaround wasn't always unusual, but these days sequels often seem to be on a three-year cycle, with the delays increasing, whereas the team behind this one has stepped up how fast they churn them out. In doing so, they've probably simplified things a fair amount, but that seems to have worked to the films' advantage, as the last couple are actually better than the first two.

This is arguably the first "true" Hong Kong movie I've seen since returning from vacation there, which was fun. The Crossing was a Chinese film mostly set there, and tended to look at the SAR as corrupting, while in this movie, the ICAC guys seem distrustful of "2Gs" whose parents came over around the handover, and it's fun to see that sort of local color in a movie. It's still got some rah-rah text about corruption actually being very rare and kept in check by ICAC, but it's almost winking in how that's included.

Most of the action took place in areas that I did not visit, even controlling for how I was not, at any point, in prison during my stay, at least not until a helicopter was threatening to crash into this guy:

Did I have an extra-big stupid smile on my face during that sequence? Obviously. I mean, that's the sign of a good vacation, right - utter delight at seeing places you've only seen in movies/pictures/etc. in person followed by the same sort of pleasure at recognizing a place you've visited. Maybe that caused me to like this cranked-out thriller a little more than it deserves, but it is still a solid little movie.

P Feng Bao (P Storm)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 4 April 2019 in AMC Boston Common #17 (first-run, DCP)

Just as some television shows don't hit their stride until their second season, film series may take a while to properly settle in, and that's what seems to have happened here - the lackluster Z Storm had a decent follow-up, but things clicked into place for the third entry in the series last year ago, with P Storm roughly on that level. It's a solidly entertaining bit of cops-and-corruption action that may not be terribly ambitious but runs like a well-oiled machine, giving the audience what it wants with a little bit of style.

This time, Independent Commission Against Corruption chief investigator William Luk Chi-Lim (Louis Koo Tin-Lok) is inserting himself into a case directly, drawing a three-month sentence in Chek O Prison for street racing so that he can discover how Cao Yuen Yuen (Raymond Yam Fung), a sleazy "2G" developer whose men killed a retired school principal, is sending threats to the victim's granddaughter Natalie Lin (Chrissie Chau Su-Na) and somehow eligible for early parole. Luk soon finds a potential friend in repeat minor offender "Fluke" Wong Lam-Luk (Louis Cheung Kai-Chung), but also discovers that Wong Man-Bun (Gordon Lam Ka-Tung), the crooked cop he put away three movies ago.

The Z Storm movies are entertaining enough, although they're not exactly the sort of thrillers that make people fall in love with Hong Kong cinema. They're sleek, have a few too many characters, and the action is often the sort where folks like Louis Koo hit their marks marks but aren't whipping out amazing combos in the same take like the great screen fighters the region is known for. They could be made anywhere, but are a bit more entertaining than the ones made most other places, and P Storm is no exception - it opens with a slick bit of automobile work, dresses everybody at ICAC in matching suits, and spends much of its time in a prison that is surprisingly tidy for being both a prison and located in Hong Kong. There's plenty of action, but it's a bit second-tier - Tony Ling Chi-Wah's choreography is fine but director David Lam Tak-Luk and his team seldom use it to tell a story or communicate emotion the way the best martial-arts movies do; while the big action finale involving a helicopter, a hostage, and a flight plan that gets a little too close to the Ngong Ping "Big Buddha" for comfort is paced and executed well but shows a bit of strain on the budget, and involves a secondary hero. It's kind of an odd decision to have the star of an action movie sit out the climax.

Full review on EFilmCritic

No comments: