Director: Wong Ching-po
Cast: Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Shawn Yue, Edison Chen, Eric Tsang
It is perhaps not inappropriate to call Jiang Hu the most anticipated Hong Kong movie of 2004. Way early before its release, the promotion had already started, making it the focus of the spotlight almost every day in the newspaper. Posters and all kinds of advertisements were seen everywhere. The producer (as well as the boss) of the movie Eric Tsang did even dare to say that "Jiang Hu is going to be the repesentative movie of Hong Kong in 2004". So, with all the hypes and high-profile publicity, was it good enough to live up to the expectations?
The answer is rather mixed. If you are looking for an innovative storyline or a transcendence of the genre, then Jiang Hu is without doubt a big disappointment, as it offers nothing new to rejuvenate the gangster genre at all. The story, as well as the characters, are all very typical of its kind. Characters depictions are quite vague and after you have seen the movie, you couldn't really relate to their thoughts or feelings. The theme also brings no new perspective but merely continues the "post-911" response - Retaliation is a neverending cycle, that are demonstrated in Running on Karma and the Infernal Affairs trilogy.
However, if your interest is the technical aspect, for instance, the composition or editing, then you may find it worth a look. New director Wong Ching-po is never afraid of experimenting with new effects to enrich his cinematic language. Exotic camera angles are used wisely in many scenes, for instance, "the transparent ground" where Turbo (Edison Chen) is beaten and "Andy Lau's moving table" in the restaurant are among those notable examples. Editing also plays an important part of this movie as it relies heavily on precise editing point to bring out the plot twist at the end. In this regard, despite the rather weak depictions of the motives of the characters, the two seemingly unrelated plots that proceeds in parallel do succeed in merging wonderfully at the end.
Talking about the actors, the most unforgettable part of veteran partners Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung aren't really their actings, but their extravagant hairstyles and costumes. Compared to the older generations, the fledglings Shawn Yue and Edison Chen are actually more impressive. Both of them do show improvement in their acting skills. Supporting actors include Eric Tsang, Norman Chui, Jacqualine Wu (I know her fans must be dying to see her return to HK cinema, but sadly to say, her role in this movie isn't really that prominent, so don't expect too much!), Lam Ka-tung, Chapman To, Miu Kiu-wai, Wai Ying-hung, Wong Shu-tong, Lam Suet (with a spoof of PTU), most of them do their part convincingly, while new face Lam Yuen doesn't seem to be able to catch the viewers' attention with her weakly depicted and obscure character.
Without doubt Jiang Hu has its own moment, the camera works, exquisite costumes and stylistic montage are all eye-catching, but they just don't add up to make it a great movie or a classic, because it lacks a real engaging story, it fails to create any lovable characters for the audience to feel and love, and most importantly, it fails to provide the emotional power to move the audience.
Cool guy(s) - All of the male actors
Reviewed by: Kantorates