OF LOYALTY (2005-HK)
review by Neo
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a good Wong Jing movie!
After very recently totally knocking Wong Jing in my own forum, about how he is deteriorating as a director, finally and like Colour of Truth, Wong Jing has delivered his good. Perhaps, Wong Jing is not good at comedy but rather triad dramas as while Truth may seemed to be an absolute fluke, Colour of Loyalty all but confirms that Wong can still be a pretty mature director. While Neo have never actually been a fan of Wong Jing, he do know that Wong has great potential - that he never seems to show. However, Colour of Loyalty has once again stunned Neo and perhaps, for what a bleak start to 2005 HK cinema, this is probably the best movie so far (but its only April, so it is not saying very much). What makes Loyalty stands out from this year movies so far, is this unique HK movie "feel" that it processes and along with its good production values, adequate story line with a few unexpected twists, makes this movie, although not original, something that is actually worth watching.
The storyline is actually very simple: A soon-to-be-retired boss of a Triad group (Eric Tsang) is told that he will be murdered by someone. He is trying to find out who the murderer is. But what makes it work is without doubt the casting of Eric Tsang, that despite his bad eyebrows, shows immense presence for someone as short as a dwarf. His acting has improved immensely ever since his role in Infernal Affairs and at 50, he is probably the coolest dwarf in the Eastern Hemisphere. His shifting emotions is comparable to Bob Hoskins and his screen time with Lam Suet is just a highlight to watch.
The premises of the movie is one that talks further about the idea of Infernal Affairs, and this movie counter that theory by simply stating that there is only either black or white, nothing in between. It also expresses its central theme that is actually pretty true, that for a triad member there is only two results: one is go to jail and the other is to sleep in a coffin. As sad as it is, this movie is an absolutely dark movie that has no saving grace and the humor is almost non-existent, which is a fitting departure for Wong Jing. In this case it actually works, rather than not. The cameo by Chapman To is unnecessary, but provides two brief scenes of the film only comic moments, in what Neo would call a very DARK and bleak movie. This movie is one that leaves the audience thinking about why would people want to be a triad? If the result is that bleak and unsatisfying. However one aspect that Wong Jing does so well is due to the existentialism issue of the randomness of life and that no matter how smart and calculating one person is, can never predict the future or control as life is random. Since when does life goes to plan? Wong goes to the extreme by portraying how everything goes to plan, before the most unexpected things actually happened.
Shawn Yue is one actor that Neo actually praised for his emotional starring eyes in Jiang Hu and once again he continues to show much promise. In the scene where his girlfriend got shot, his eyes is full of emotions and that starring motion of fiery reminds me of one person - Chow Yun Fat when he goes crazy in Prison on Fire. The only real problem of the movie is the acting of Sammul Chan, although he has shown some ability in TVB, his transition to the big screen shows inexperience to handle a role that can have much more depth in his character, if he was played by some guy like Tony Leung Ka Fai.
So, after a long break for Neo, he has decided to review a few more before the end of April as he wants to tell you one thing - it is the site 1st BIRTHDAY on the 28th April 2005! Just before we go totally off-track, Colour of Loyalty is what Neo calls a HK movie, a movie that has that distinct feel to it, that those romantic comedies have totally lost. It is not strikingly original, but the movie holds well for the entire duration and what more the leading role is Eric Tsang and what a way to carry a role - charisma, calm, witty and evil at the same time - all in one little dwarf! Well Wong Jing has disappointed me in recent years with Sex and Beauties and Love is Stupid Whateva shit, this movie has all but healed those wounds that he inflicted upon me and what more, it also showed to me that Wong is not a one off fluke, but the fact that his switch to serious triad drama, while it may not be revitalizing the box office, but simply the fact that he can still make good movies. Colour of Loyalty is a good movie, not because it is a silly spoof of IA series, but the fact that it is a movie that can stand alone and also delivering a message to all those wanna-be future gangster out there that the road ahead is only black or white, and if you choose black, then all I can say according to the movie is simply - good luck.
I rate it 8.75/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Genre: Triad Drama
Directors: Wong Jing, Billy Chung Siu-Hung
Cast: Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Shawn Yue Man-Lok, Suki Kwan Sau-Mei, Emme Wong Yi-Man, Lam Suet, Sammul Chan Kin-Fung
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), April 2005