New Option, The
Cast: Shawn Yu, Michael Wong, Suki Kwan, Patrick Tam
Who is the director of The New Option? Why is it not listed in the opening or end credit? Some people say the director is Gordan Chan, some say it is Wong Jing, some even say it is Bill Lee (one of the actors in this movie). There are rumors saying that Wong Jing didn't credit himself as the director because he was afraid that his notorious reputation would ruin the expectation of the audience as well as the box office record... Anyway, the fact now is that the real identity of the director is kept unknown to us.
If you expect this movie to be a replica of Gordan Chan's "SDU" series in the early 1990s, then you could be on the wrong track. Yes, we still have Michael Wong, the icon of this series, as the SDU leader, but this time, the focus of the movie is no longer Michael Wong or SDU. Obviously, the pivotal character is pop idol Shawn Yu. He plays the role of a CID who always wants to transfer to the SDU department. He does get into the SDU training camp that is headed by Michael Wong, but the training session only takes up a small part of the movie, most of the remaining plot is reserved for Yu's investigation of an armed robbery case with Patrick Tam as the primary suspect. To a certain extent, the film appears more like a detective story than an action adventure flick about SDU as suggested by the film title and the poster of the movie. Luckily, the final combat at the end is still exciting, and it also somehow reminds me of the computer game Counter Strike.
The most successful part of this movie is the depiction of Shawn Yu's character. As the heoric protagonist, this character is not omnipotent at all. He is as vulnerable as any of us. When he knows that he is expelled from the team, he suffers from a mental breakdown. He cannot concentrate on his job and doesn't sleep for six days. The movie shows a very genuine and living portrayal of a real person. As a matter of fact, the sequence about his six days investigation is very impressive. At first, this sequence looks little obscured as the editing seems confusing and awkward, but everything becomes clear and meaningful later when we are told that it is a fragmented collection of events happened in six days. Apart from Shawn Yu, Patrick Tam and his gang group are also appealing. Similar to what I said about Shawn Yu, these gangsters are not omnipotent too. They also have their own conflicts and vulnerable moments. It is this realistic delineation of characters that makes the story captivating.
Other than Shawn Yu and Patrick Tam, everything in this movie is just out of place. The plot suffers from serious illogicality, some scenes just don't make much sense, for instance, if the priority of the gangs is money (as they have spent so much time to conceive their "fake note" plot", when do they keep luring and taunting with the police and SDU? If Patrick Tam is such a brilliant guy, why would he want to team up with the mad white guy who always wants to challenge the cops? Shawn Yu's showtime at the end also ruins the team spirit of SDU as promoted in the beginning. It seems to suggest that individualism is still valued after all. Other scenes like the love plot between Michael Wong and Suki Kwan or the SDU training session in the beginning are also incomplete. It is probably because a great portion of the movie is devoted to promoting a positive star image for Shawn Yu, that everything else is forced to remain brief and concise. The lack of details is really distracting.
The New Option is not a balanced movie, while some scenes are well polished and conceived, some are just poorly handled. Give it a try if you have lots of free time. If you are a fan of Shawn Yu, you may enjoy this movie very much. On the other hand, the advice for Gordan Chan's fans is to better stick with his old SDU movies.
Reviewed by: Kantorates