Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Stool Pigeon (2010) @ 线人

Liu Kai Chi, the ex-stool pigeon with a lousy retirement package.

At a glance:
It’s Beast Stalker Part II as one-genre man Dante Lam Chiu Yin’s latest Hua Yi Brothers-backed US$4 million crime drama goes down as his best so far, lookin like it’s been explicitly made with Golden Horse intentions, especially with the role reversal between Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse, who now play a cop and an informant respectively. Since his unfocused Sniper (2009) was somewhat a one-dimensional letdown, it was great that Fire Of Conscience (2010) burned brighter and now we can attest to Stool Pigeon 线人 being a superior product that benefits from the exceptional pairin and also a particularly restrained but intense screenplay by Jack Ng Wai Lun, save for some jarrin extended downtime. The titular informant here is habitual offender Ghost Jr (Tse), son of a renowned underground racer and is now doin time but Inspector Don (Cheung) picks him out to be the best positioned informant to infiltrate a gang who specialises in jewellery heists. Since his sister has been pimped out due to his father’s debts, the money proves too good for him to refuse and Ghost Jr gets dragged through an epic struggle of blood, sweat and tears. We have good character development throughout, startin with Liu Kai Chi’s ex-stoolie character and even Kwai Lun Mei who apparently holds a gun for the first time in a movie, playin a feisty gangster’s moll. Mainlander Lu Yi gets a comfortable part as heist mastermind Barbarian while Miao Pu gets to play Nick Cheung’s wife again (Beast Stalker) in a twisted sideplot.
First time shooter: Kwai Lun Mei.
Bad news on the doorstep:
The mole scenario is a HK cinema overkill but Stool Pigeon offers two fresh aspects that are uncommon. One is the often darkly humourous dialogues about informant procedure and even pricing structure. We’re shown how to “treat your stoolie like your girlfriend” and also how cash rewards commensurate with task objectives in a most organised way. Next, we have a more textured presentation, as Lam chose despairing Kowloon streets for most scenes and there are plenty of location-specific references that enrich the movie.
Your informant is like your girfriend.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
The picture comes off stylish, thematically-grippin and substantial, balancin drama and action will aplomb, unlike the many uneasy blow-em-‘up HK titles we have had to settle for every now and then.The director has edited a scalpin scene with Cheung, so you can expect the movie to be averagely violent, with plenty of realistically dirty blood-soaked scuffles (check out Tse getting beaten to a pulp on the kerb) instead of clean chops and martial arts. Watch it as this year’s best Hong Kong crime drama so far.★★★★