I Corrupt All Cops 金錢帝國 (2009) – Hong Kong

A rare piece of gem from Wong Jing…

Review by Neo: Wong Jing is famous for producing crap and so whenever, a slightly better than average movie that comes from within the Jing Factory, it is usually a course for celebration. While it is true that Wong Jing produces more crap than quality, there are also the likes of Colour of Truth, Colour of Loyalty to cover up some flaws. Luckily, his latest ambitious attempt in I Corrupt All Cops is more like the Colour series, than the Nick Cheung’s episodes of Stephen Chow-wannabe comedies. Starring a cast of Tony Leung Ka Fai, Eason Chan, Anthony Wong and a string of veterans in various supporting roles, Wong Jing hits his mark well and while not entirely a successful take on the full-scale police corruption of the 1960-70s and the remedies and crackdown by the establishment of ICAC, but I am sure the audience is more than willing to take it in and enjoy the ride.

The story goes like this: It is 1960s Hong Kong, the land of corruption, the land of no opportunity if you are not either a cop or criminal; it is a world where good and bad is basically a result of no clear black and white. Rules were made to be broken and at the end of the day, the real sufferers are the people of Hong Kong. In came the ICAC and their attempts to crack down on corruption is not without difficulty and in this case, they are dealing with life and death situations.

The problem with this movie is the effect of trying to cover too much within a limited space of time. With establishment of ICAC storming into the film at the three quarter mark and it makes their dealings seemed like fast forwarding and resolving for resolving sake, rather than an impacting display on the audience. Like all Wong Jing movies, he prefers to focus on what’s popular, that’s the corruption of cops and their wives. In saying wives, it means that Wong can focus on what he does best, filming hot chicks, money and sex. Then again, if that is what the audience is after, Wong Jing just couldn’t be too wrong after all.

On the performances, Eason Chan proves once again what he can do, when given a dramatic role that requires some deeper acting. His ability retrain himself shows maturity in his display and not unlike his previous good performances in Crazy N the City and Funeral March, Chan shows that he can do make than just sing. His chemistry with the terribly hot chick (Liu Yang) is a dazzle to watch. At the end of the day, it is still one of Chan’s better display, but for a leading role, it is unfortunate that Chan cannot create a more interesting and compelling character, given the juicy role. As usual Tony Leung Ka Fai is at the top of his game with yet another sleep walking display of menacing acting. As a top cop, he is corrupted, with absolutely no mercy shown for his doings, and truly someone who is bad ass for bad ass sake. Basically, this is yet another over the top performance that works for the veteran of this kind of role.

Anthony Wong is given a lesser role of the three, as a cop that never really makes it. The only problem is the sudden change of his character from corrupted, gambling police to becoming a team leader in ICAC. Luckily, Wong is a good enough actor to disguise this flaw and the scene at the side street porridge is a memorable one. Bowie Lam, a TVB regular, have matured a lot since the Hard Boiled days and he was sympathetic enough to be believable as the one unbendable ICAC head. Mainland chick (Liu Yang) shows beauty and a certain level of flair enough to overshadow any of the 9 wives that Eason is forced to possesses.

Basically, at its very core, the film has all the characteristic of a Wong Jing’s film, blood, violence, hot chicks, gangsters and cops. What set this film apart is that, it is not trying to be a comedy, but rather the seriousness of the matter. Sure, there are some comedic moments, but they are far and between and not enough to hamper the serious overtone of the movie. Then again, it must be noted that the film might have been a better one if Wong Jing can just stay behind the camera, rather than in front of it as well. The result is like juxtaposition, when a screwball like Wong Jing is standing alongside the serious over-acting of Tony Leung Ka Fai.

All in all, I Corrupt All Cops is most likely Wong Jing’s most ambitious film to date and not to mention, it is probably one of his better films for the last decade. While it doesn’t exactly take much to derail the likes of Wise Guys Never Dies and Beauty and the 7 Beast, ICAC is still an achievement and a rare shine of light for a rather subdued year of Hong Kong cinema. So am I going crazy, by praising Wong Jing? The answer is yes and no. Basically, I am happy as long as Wong Jing keeps directing along the line of these films, and create a face off warning of ever appearing in front of the camera again … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 8/10

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