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
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.
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.
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.
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.
My rating for this film: 7.5