review by Neo
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Ho Nam finally matures…
Who can forget all those moments of seeing Ekin Cheng as his alter ego – Chan Ho Nam in the Young and Dangerous series? It is true that whether it is intended to or not, this flick is one that shows the life of Chan Ho Nam – 10 years on and finally growing up to be a better man. The question remains, can someone truly turn a new leaf, and perhaps to put it into a bigger picture, imagine a cool blooded killer becoming the next CEO of IBM? Such an analogy seems far-fetched, but rhymes true as it is social norm to not believe it can happen. Directed by James Yuen, the person behind the refreshing – Crazy N the City, it is little wonder that they both want to express something about life, perhaps a message. While Crazy N the City succeeds in being realistic, believable and even at times inspiring, the same can not be said of Heavenly Mission as good intention does not make a realistic movie.
The movie goes like this: After eight years in Thai prison, legendary triad leader Autumn Yip (Ekin Cheng) returns to Hong Kong, sending the police, the underworld, and the media into frenzy as they try to anticipate his next big move. Teaming up with his former buddies, the high-profile Autumn opens a legitimate company, gives to charity, and appears every bit a mild-mannered, reformed man. Seasoned cop Ming (Alex Fong), however, is convinced that his actions are a front for something illegal. Equally suspicious is aggressive triad boss Ghost (Stephen Fung) who resorts to nefarious tactics to challenge both Autumn and the police.
Ekin Cheng has come a long way since his Young and Dangerous days and it is almost impossible to not associate him with Chan Ho Nam. It is slack that 10 years on, people continue to laud about his past non-acting style, and as hard as he have attempted to shed that image, people still remember him for that role. While Neo can not state that Ekin is a talented actor, but he can certainly be safe to say that he have improved. While he may never be a great actor, Ekin is yet to be given an opportunity to act in a beefy role. Here, Ekin is basically himself and perhaps a more mature version of Chan Ho Nam. It is fitting for him to paid tribute to a role that made him famous, but his almost non-acting and stoic performance here, made the movie impossible to connect. It can be partly due to the unrealistic nature of the script, but nonetheless, the film never reaches the heights of what they want to express.
There moments of enlightenment and giving out a reminder that Yuen did direct the inspirational Crazy N the City. Ekin flirtation with the blind chick played by the newly acclaimed (this site’s Best Actress in My Name is Fame), Huo Siyan, provides a memorable explanation of what is good and evil. She denotes that when you close your eyes, you cannot distinguish what is black and white. She goes about how good people can do bad things, and bad people can do good deeds. These are rare moments of inspiration, but sadly it never seems to connect towards the audience through pictures rather than words.
Stephen Fung appears here and there and produces one of his coolest, yet producing an undemanding performance. Niki Chow does nothing either than being pretty. However, Alex Fong portrays the role of a cop in a suitable fashion as director Yuen uses Fong to comment about the treatment of past offenders. It leads us back to the central question of whether or not past offenders can really turn over a new leaf. The movie leaves the audience wondering if it was the police’s fault for thinking that Ekin will do something bad, since he was a triad. The film ultimately wants to express the notion of good and evil and how difficult it is to change someone perception of you, once their mind is set on a way of thinking.
All in all, Heavenly Mission is immensely solid, but the result is rather disappointing as the flick never seems to be able to connect to its audience. Sure, it has something meaningful to say, but it is pointless to express an ideal without much substance to back it up. If Ekin wants to shed his former image, and using this film’s core as an example, it will seem pretty much impossible. James Yuen has done better and probably should have done better. Nonetheless, this is still an extremely solid flick that ends up just a tat too lacking. On a final note, so can Ekin shed his former image – to be perfectly honest, perhaps…
I rate it 6.5/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Directed by James YUEN;
Starring Ekin CHENG, Stephen FUNG, Alex FONG, Niki CHOW, Eric KOT.