4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"You've got more money than me. You've got more men than me. Now you've got more bullet holes than me!",
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fatal Move [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
Fatal Move provides plenty of ammunition for those who think they don't make `em like they used to. Even a decade ago you get the feeling that this cops and triads movie could have been a lot better in the hands of any one of dozens of capable Hong Kong directors but it remains a mishmash of half-realised ideas, an impressive cast (many from the infinitely superior SPL) whose potential is largely wasted and the odd action scene that never really catch fire. While there's nothing original here, the ingredients are there for a better film that at times struggles to get out but never makes it, which makes it all the more surprising that writer-director Dennis Law was also the producer of Johnnie To's two much more impressive Election films.
Just as Election 2 was ironically subtitled Harmony is a Virtue, the triad society financed by Sammo Hung in Fatal Move is called Truthfulness, Trust and Loyalty, so with a name like that you just know they're going to be at each other's throats before long, but the film takes a curiously long time deciding what story it wants to tell and how to go about it. The early betrayals by rivals and minions - or rather a minion's girlfriend and her lover - are later mirrored by ones closer to home for both triads and cops when a drugs bust and a botched kidnap attempt lead to gang war, and this section of the film certainly works fairly well. But the film tends to set up too many characters and subplots that it loses interest in, and not always very well: the film spends so long building up Lam Suet's family life that they might as well have painted a target on his back when he made his entrance while, as he admits in the brief making of featurette on the UK DVD, an underused Danny Lee is just another cop chasing triads yet again with nothing much to do. Even worse are many of the often clumsily inserted action scenes that have little to do with the plot and are there mainly to showcase Wu Jing, which turns out to be a big mistake.
Wu Jing, who made quite an impression in SPL/Killzone as an impassively intense bleach-blonde stone cold killer working for Sammo Hung who you really didn't want to mess with makes considerably less impact here playing an impassively disinterested blue-haired stone cold killer working for Sammo Hung who you really don't want to mess with, but who this time has a sword. This gives him an excuse for some especially unconvincing swordfights with what could well be the fakest looking cartoon CGi blood you'll ever see added in post production along with plenty of severed CGi limbs that are meant to be cool but are more silly than anything else. It doesn't help that, even with little to do, he gives a truly terrible performance or that the rationale for his final fight with Sammo is so non-existent beyond a desire to get the two trading blows in the trailer that the scene feels like it's been dropped in from an entirely different movie. He has so little impact on events and characters that you could cut him out of the film and you'd probably never know he'd ever been there.
The action improves when the plot takes hold and it actually has something to do with the film, but even a setpiece where killers infiltrate a police station to kill one of their own in case he spills the beans and then have to fight their way out doesn't work half as well as it really should. Instead it's at its best in Hung's character scenes with Simon Yam's underachieving younger brother who desperately wants to prove himself, and with his plotting wife Kelly Chu, whose well-concealed resentment causes everyone's destruction. Yet sadly all three are often sidelined, forcing too much backstory to be crammed into these vignettes before the film lurches off in a different direction and throws in something that lowers the bar and takes your interest away with it. It doesn't help that it's not always clear what is happening to who or why we should care: Chu's lengthy final monologue tells us everything we should have known about her relationship with her husband in the first third of the movie for its last reel attempt to drum up some emotional resonance for people we never really got close to work. Instead the Godfather/Infernal Affairs II epilogue simply seeming more desperate than shocking and tragic. It's not a total loss - there's a nice does-he-know-or-doesn't-he? moment when Hung repeats one of the kidnappers' conversations to them verbatim and Yam has one great line worth of a Warner Bros. gangster ("You've got more money than me. You've got more men than me. Now you've got more bullet holes than me!") while despatching a traitor as well as a memorably underplayed final shot - but you can't help feeling that the cast and the story deserve better than they're given here. Although not especially graphic, those of a more sensitive disposition should note there's a fairly nasty torture scene involving teeth and fingernails, though others may be more disturbed by one staggeringly obvious bit of body doubling after the final fight.
The UK DVD and Blu-ray releases offer a decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with English subtitles, a rather half-hearted 10-minute making of and trailers.