The Viral Factor 逆戰 (2012) – Hong Kong

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Dante Lam is fast becoming one of the most consistently good directors from Hong Kong. With Beast Stalker and Stool Pigeon under his belt, Lam once again impresses in The Viral Factor. There is something about this film that takes hold of you and despite the tame finale; Viral Factor manages to come up with plenty of guns, body counts and high stake stunts to entertain action fans. Casting Lam’s regular Nicholas Tse and Liu Kai-chi springs no surprise in the good acting department, but it is the mis-cast of Jay Chou that ruins an otherwise pretty good flick.

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Jay Chou has zero facial expressions, his eyes are too small for any type of impact and his face is that of a wooden statue. Comparing with the matured reigning Best Actor in Tse, Chou is purely poor and totally out of place. Tse on the other hand oozes with confidence and in one scene his eyes was so intense that it bludges out to the audience. Tse has all the hall-mark of a versatile actor and another Best Actor gonk does not seem far away. Liu Kai-chi once again gives a scene stealing display as the gambling addict yet loving father. Another weak link is the villainous turn from Andy On and it is clear that he lacks the menacing presence that is required of the role. Like Chou, On is too wooden to have any impact on the audience.

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All in all, The Viral Factor is a decent Hong Kong action-er that shoots and shoots from start to finish. With some indifferent acting display and a tame finale, the film ultimately suffers and stops it from elevating the film to the same level as the wonderful Beast Stalker or even The Stool Pigeon for that matter. In hindsight, if Chou and On are replaced by the likes of Nick Cheung and Francis Ng respectively, the film will probably go leaps and bounds. Still, The Viral Factor entertains from start to finish and for Hong Kong film nowadays, one shouldn’t expect perfection…

Neo rates it 7.5/10

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