[DVD] Powerful Four 四大探長 (1992) – Hong Kong

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Powerful Four is a good film because it never takes itself too seriously without being mindless, while at the same time delivering an entertaining action drama about the serious issue of police and society corruption in the 1950s. With a strong cast of Danny Lee, Simon Yam, Waise Lee and Kent Cheng, Powerful remains afloat for the majority of the duration, until a predictable finale that nearly undo-s all the hard yards made for a good three quarters of the film. What surprised me is how easy to watch this film remains to be, despite viewing it exactly 2 decades onwards. Such is the HK cinemas in 90s, at the height of its production peak, most films started well but finishes in a flourish and Powerful Four does not fall into any exception.

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What Powerful Four feels like is fast food – quick, convenient and cheap. The problem with this film is that you never really feel for the characters, as everything seems to be happening at a pace. When an arm is being cut off, the director moves to the next scene or shot too quickly for the audience to decide to feel sorry or not. Perhaps director and producer David Lam is trying to show all that is happening in the limited screen time, but every issue seems shortened, suddenly solved or wrongly invested.

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All in all, Powerful Four is by no means a bad film, in fact in terms of quick fire 90s entertainment, it is probably more on the upper scale than not. The acting of the four big names is certainly helps, but none of the characters are fully explored. Kent Cheng is especially criminally wasted and Waise Lee seems to cover up any kind of clue as to his true intention. Of all the characters, only Danny Lee is given some weight, but then again, it is not hard at all for Lee Sir to convince anyone for that matter if he is a cop or not. For me, this film is really another case of a premise that promise a lot, but delivers the bare minimum. A decently good film that never lifts above its genre conventions…

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Neo rates it 7/10

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