Teddy Chan directs this relatively large budget HK movie with emphasis on Human emotions and action thriller. Mixing and matching, audiences are given a roller coaster ride of emotions, which works very well with Western Audiences such as heightening sadness immediately after an adrenaline pumping action sequence. This trick has always been a trademark amongst Hong Kong movies and has only been recently introduced to the West by the likes of John Woo and Hark Sui.
Daniel Wu, an American born actor, is the main focus of the film as he juggles his emotions between loyalty and righteousness. Like with the rest of the cast, Daniel does not try to overplay his role with typical HK theatrical acting techniques. This is refreshing and also adds a little realism to the film. My only disappointment was with Joan Chen, who I admire as a first rate actress, but cannot speak Cantonese (Mandarin speaker), so throughout the film she has been horribly dubbed over with very noticeable speech non-synchronisation.
The plot itself is interesting but was not clearly explained throughout the film (toward the end there were moments that I did not know what was happening and what to watch out for, namely the airport sequence). Furthermore, I would have rather preferred if the film eliminated some of its plot holes (e.g. Motivation from Todd and what happened to his son?) as character building was such an integral part of the film. Instead, the movie chooses to be driven by action sequences rendering the audiences of any plot anticipation. The action sequences is divided into 2 categories, gun shooting and hand to hand combat. The gun shooting sequences are not as good as what the big budget Hollywood offers which I thought was disappointing, however the highly praised hand to hand combat compensates the action sequences with realistic and very hard hitting moves. At this point, I would like to emphasise that this film is very violent (not for HK standard though) even for an UK 15 rating and some Western Viewers will be shocked when viewing this film.
This film was clearly made with more effort and thought than the usual HK production. It has been highly praised by viewers in the Far East and rightly so. Western viewers will enjoy it very much as this style of filmmaking and plot is still relatively novel in the West. I would highly recommend this film to anyone in the world that loves thriller and action in its movie.
The DVD is presented with a good selection of special features from a 20mins making featurette to an interview with the co-star Josie Ho. There is even a terrific film commentary with the writer of the script and Danny Wu, the lead actor. This DVD will not disappoint fans of the film.