Moving Targets
Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Wong Jing.

Wong Jing scores big with another cop vs. triad picture with a strong story and sense of local (Hong Kong) identity, similar to 2003's THE COLOUR OF THE TRUTH. Nicholas Tse and Edison Chen star as young, tough cops who each have family problems that effect their careers and change their lives. Tse's father (Simon Yam) left his mother when he was just a kid, apparently nearly killing her before leaving. Yam is a cop, and ends up as Tse's boss, without knowing he is really his father. Tse hopes to use his new position to take revenge for his mother. Chen's mother, meanwhile, hangs out with a good for nothing (Lam Suet) who gets into debt with the loan sharks. Chen helps him out of a scrape, only to find that the triad then targets him as someone who can be made into a "dirty cop." The complex interpersonal relationships between the protagonists and antagonists make every bust into a family affair.

A very enjoyable movie with a great script and excellent acting from all the male leads (yes, even Edison). Simon Yam is at the peak of his abilities here, outshining even his award-winning performance in PTU (2003). The big action set piece of the film (a prisoner transfer escape) is both cinematically inventive and thrilling. Wong Jing has stepped up to Johnnie To territory (PTU, BREAKING NEWS), and it is good.

Unfortunately, Hong Kong audiences couldn't have cared less. MOVING TARGETS was billed as a modern update of the much beloved classic TVB serial POLICE CADET, from the 80s, which starred Tony Leung Chui-Wai, Maggie Chueng, Lau Ching Wan, Carina Lau, Chow Yun-Fat, and hey! even Simon Yam! But Wong Jing just kept character names and wrote a new story, infuriating legions of fans who wanted him to leave their precious memories alone. It bombed at the box office, but now that the expectation game has been played out, it is possible that viewers will be able to see the film, and enjoy it, for what it is, not what they think it should be.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on January 10, 2005.

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