2002


Hong Kong film fans moaned and lamented in 2000 when Director Wilson Yip seemed to turn to the dark side with his big budget CGI film Skyline Cruisers that had the emotional and entertainment appeal of a chunk of concrete falling on your head. Until then he had focused on smaller, more personal and edgier films such as Mongkok Story, Bullets over Summer, Bio-Zombie and Juliet in Love that made him one of the more interesting directors working in Hong Kong today. Well, he is back again with a big budget CGI film – but this time thankfully he got it mostly right.
Nicholas Tse and Sam Lee
Utilizing a mix of kooky CGI and frenetic action along with a dash of bittersweet romance he creates an entertaining and endearing film that feels like a throwback to those terrific supernatural action films of the 1980s in which anything goes. In the realm of the supernatural there are no rules and that certainly applies to this film that tosses logic aside in disdain and drags the viewer happily along. Unlike many other HK films that have lost their soul to the CGI God, Yip leaves enough space in between the action and the CGI for a strong layer of sentiment to settle in and wrap itself around you. Yip also takes the time to give the characters just enough substance and weight to make you care but not slow down the film too much.
Tse, Law Kar-ying and Lee
In a riff of their characters in Generation X-Cops, Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung and Sam Lee all join up again to fight the bad guys – the difference is of course that the bad guys are already dead and are ghosts that have evil intentions. They even have an Eric Tsang like mentor in the figure of Law Kar-ying who oversees and advises them on supernatural matters and has some Taoist priest like powers of his own. I’ve never been a huge fan of this young threesome but rarely have they been so ingratiating. Nicholas Tse brings out oodles of his promise in a very stylish turn in which his leather jacket and well-placed bangs just scream out “cool”. In particular I have found Fung to be as exciting as wet sod, but here he creates a very sympathetic character that doesn’t have the pizzazz of Tse’s but it has a sweetness that is attractive. Sam has a smaller role but his time is well spent in the film.
Stephen Fung and Rain Li
Some ghosts are often up to no good on the streets and roofs of Hong Kong (while others harmlessly wander about) and Tse and Lee are in a special police unit that tracks them down and takes them out of commission. Tse is human but is able to see ghosts while Lee is actually Tse’s ex-partner who was killed in a shootout and now assists Tse (as a ghost) in his police duties. The fights are wild and crazy, bodies spinning through the air, nasty ghosts hissing, flying and throwing fireballs, ghost weapons being used like vacuum pistols with blood filled bullets and giant hammers from burnt offerings. It’s all rather fun.
Tse and Anya
Later Tse discovers that patrol cop Fung can also see the dead and recruits him only to find out that he is terrified of ghosts, but Law tells him that Fung is essential to the team. We are soon to find out why. Soon they are battling the Water Ghost (Alex Fong Nik-sum – another Alex Fong) and the salacious Fire Ghost (Anya) for their lives. In the meantime Tse falls for the extremely appealing Danielle Graham, but the mark on his hand foretells death for anyone that gets too close to him - so he has to keep his distance. Fung tries to find love with a comatose patient (Rain Li) whose dead grandmother's ghost asked him to look after her. It all gets surprisingly tense and somewhat sad as the character’s fates play out between life and death.
Danielle Graham

My rating for this film: 7.5