The Sniper 神鎗手 (2009) – Hong Kong

More like a video game than an actual movie…

Review by Neo: For whatever reason, The Sniper does not seem like a movie, but rather like a kid playing the latest shooting video game. The effect certainly oozed everything that is cool and nothing else. Maybe it is because of the producer cutting and chopping every possible scenes of the notorious Edison Chen, The Sniper just never seems to care about the characters or the story for that matter. The film is ultimately uneven, makes next to no sense and rather like a mindless action flick, with zero substance.

The movie is basically about sniper cops fighting criminals. Richie Ren is a top sniper cop and somehow recruits Edison Chen after witnessing his snipering abilities. Huang Xiaoming used to be the very best sniper cop, but after an accidental killing in an hostage situation, Huang is jailed and subsequently dismissed from the force. As with all routine and cliché movies goes, Huang ends up moving on to the dark side and help the criminals to hunt down sniper cops…

Not a clever or intriguing story, especially one would expect more from the director of Beast Cops and Beast Stalker. Usually, it is safe to say that Dante Lam likes to focus on characters and a look at Anthony Wong, award winning display in Beast Cops and Nick Cheung in Beast Stalker, already provides adequate evidence. Here, director Lam forgets the need of a story, partly due to the relentless cutting of most of Edison’s scenes. Unfortunately, the movie suffers and by the final showdown, there is no character for the audience to care about and no emotions to be felt by the awaiting audience.

Firstly the performance of Edison Chen is quite frankly uninteresting, bland and quite crap. It is perhaps a blessing in disguise for the cinema of Hong Kong to lose such a talentless actor. It goes without saying that Edison can’t act and despite having praised his abilities to play a dog in Dog Bite Dog, there is no doubt within my mind that Edison still cannot act and thinks he is cool, when obviously he is not. Maybe, he can play another dog or mentally disturbed character, if he wants to prove me wrong. While cutting his scenes, makes the film uneven or even raising questions of making no senses, at the end of the day, the film is far better without Edison, than with it. So my advice to him, is stay away from Hong Kong for the better.

Moving on to Richie Ren, it’s been a while since Richie last made a decent movie with a decent enough role. Richie is a decent actor with decent presence, but it’s been 3 yrs since Johnnie To’s Exiled and to see him go further and further away from reaching his potential in useless flicks like Contract Lover and The Sniper, it is just frustrating. Sure, he has enough presence to carry the flick, but career-wise, Richie isn’t heading the correct direction. As for Huang Xiao-Ming, his overacting is more frustrating to endure and quite frankly, his villainous turn fails to convince. The much missed Mango Wong (last seen at the cinemas with Ghost Office/ Conman 2002), is a welcome addition and instil some sparks in an otherwise rather dull flick with even duller characters.

All in all, The Sniper is simply a critical failure and a commercial failure. Whatever, Dante Lam’s intention is, it will probably remain unclear. Maybe he turned into his Heat Team (2004) mode, but even that was funny and cool at the same time. Maybe he turned his head back in place, after this and churned out Beast Stalker. Needless to say, the sniper shooting is cool to watch, Richie Ren is cool dude and so is Huang Xiao Ming to a degree and of course, Edison is just plain crap. The main thing is that this is a movie, but it never seems to run like one. Like the failure of mindless action flicks in Hollywood, for example, Ballistic – Ecks vs. Sever. While The Sniper never seem to reach that height of disappointment, but when you are aiming for a target as low as this, the only loser that comes out of this is ultimately the paying public. For the last time, and hopefully will be, the film is a cool and bad, but nothing can be worst than Edison, himself … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 3/10

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