Confession of Pain 傷城 (2005) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Edited by: Andrew Chan (26 September 2013)
Review Date: 25th December 2005

Starring: Tony LEUNG Chiu-Wai, Takeshi KAESHIRO, Shu Qi, XU Jinglei, Chapman TO.
Directed by: Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
Released on DVD and Blu Ray

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This is no “Infernal Affairs”…

“Confession of Pain” is exactly the type of movie that is so hyped up and combining with the ever dependable Tony Leung Chiu Wai, one would question exactly how it can go wrong. Perhaps it is because I personally expected something more shocking and surprising than a rehash of what had already been seen millions of time before in countless Hollywood movies. This is a disappointing achievement and when the actual substance doesn’t exactly strike a cord with the audience until the very end, one can only feel further disappointment. From the directors of “Infernal Affairs”, one would expect better, but the plot goes from one cliché to another and eventually attempts to throw in some sort of classy ending that only leaves the audience more muddled than they should be. I am sure there are redeeming factors, and credit must be given to the directors for not going the easier route, but rather emphasis with Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s character, and the reasons behind his internal turmoil and his conflict within his mind both in the past and present. Still, this is a wholly average attempt and the result is pretty much falling way below the hype and expectation.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai is without question, Hong Kong’s best dramatic actor for the past decade or so. His performance here isn’t exactly top notch, but his sheer presence kept the audience watching the depth of his acting abilities. This is by no means an award winning performance, but in all ways, he pulled off an immensely difficult role to some degree of success. Takeshi Kaeshiro isn’t an actor with the greatest range, but can be equally convincing as seen in plenty of Wong Kar Wai’s films. Shu Qi appears here and there and seems more annoying than sexy. With that being said, Chapman To, is fast becoming the funniest supporting actors in Hong Kong today. After his underrated comic relief in “Infernal Affairs” series, “Initial D” and “Colour of Truth”, his performance here is pitch perfect and provides much needed comic relief in an otherwise uncompromising movie. His comic timing has improved and the moment he appears on screen, it is already worth a giggle or two. Laughing at him or with him, Chapman To, has succeeded in drawing a smile on your face.

Those expecting “Infernal Affairs” should really look elsewhere, as “Confession of Pain” is nowhere near that caliber nor is it aimed at a similar genre. Yes, the film is about cops and good guys and bad guys, but ultimately this is a love story and a film about revenge and identity. Everyone have a reason for their actions, whether it is good or bad. Directors Alan Mak and Andrew Lau fails in every department, except for the redeeming ending and the seemingly high production values. Ultimately the film is too predictable to be a thriller, too few “Chapman To” to be a comedy and far too much Shu Qi to be not entirely annoying. With that being said, the most important element that this film lacks is the almost non-existent connection with the audience and the effect is leaving the audience muddled up and confused. All in all, “Confession of Pain” is really a confession from the directors to the audience about how much pain it is to direct this movie. Really, some parts of the journey is painful to endure, but at least they tried… (Neo 2005)

I rated it 6.75/10

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