Unbeatable 激戰 (2013) – Hong Kong / China
Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 29th August 2013
Directed by: Dante Lam
Starring: Nick Cheung, Eddie Peng, Mei Ting, Andy On
Film Distributed by Distribution Workshop HK, Dream Movies and Bona Film Group
Also the opening film of the 2013 Summer International Film Festival (HKIFF).
In cinemas Hong Kong and Australia from 16 August 2013.
Support the site by buying DVD or Blu-ray from our HK Neo Distribution Ebay Store
What I enjoyed the most about Dante Lam’s “Unbeatable” is the level of characters’ exploration and depth that the film derails into, rather than just making boxing its key focus. This is smart move, as all of Lam’s best efforts come from building a character and of course, this is even better if that guy in question is played by Nick Cheung. In what I call Nick Cheung’s career best performance, this is by no means an understatement as he never overacts and the level of restrain that his character requires is on par with the always effortless style of the highly underrated Lau Ching Wan. Eddie Peng will certainly bring in a legion of female fascination, despite requiring his muscles to do more of the acting. Still, “Unbeatable” stands quite firmly as the film to beat in 2013 and quite easily the Hong Kong pride in the fame of “Rocky”.
Nick Cheung plays a character torn from his past experiences and as with most of Lam created characters, they are genuinely flawed. Playing against type is what initially garnered Cheung with multiple Best Actor awards, but it is his performance here that should give his acting ability a new dimension. As master /trainer of Eddie Peng, Cheung is require to take a back seat for a prolonged period, but he did not let that prevent the audience focus being squarely on him. Eddie Peng provides good physical presence, but little is known or shown about his character and past, apart from his relationship his former rich dad. However, Peng excels in most fight scenes and his portrayal the underdog role is met with adequate flair. In addition, Peng is easily a likable character, but pales in compassion to the versatility of Cheung.
All in all, “Unbeatable” is film that works extremely hard from the fight scenes, character analysis and the numerous subplot. Lam also find time to deal with the issue of mental illness. despite being a serious problem in a crowded and complicated society like Hong Kong, it is still more often than not neglected. Chinese acclaimed actress, Mei Ting is convincing as the mother who cannot get over her son accidental death and inflict her mind within her own prison. It is this subplot that allows Cheung to expand his acting range and for the first time in his life, he has something to fight for. “Unbeatable” is one of those films that never stops to excite, entertain, inspire and finally understand. It is an accomplished effort from a director very much in his prime and also bringing a veteran actor to even greater heights. As for the final punch in the movie, it stands firmly as one of Hong Kong cinematic moments to remember. (Neo 2013)
I rated 8.75/10