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Heat Team

     

(left) Yumiko Cheng, and (right) Eason Chan and Aaron Kwok in Heat Team.

Year: 2003
Director: Dante Lam Chiu-Yin
Producer: Chan Hing-Kai, Law Kwok-Leung
Writer: Chan Hing-Kai, John Chan Kin-Chung
Action: Wong Wai-Fai
Cast: Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, Eason Chan Yik-Shun, Yumiko Cheng Hei-Yi, Dave Wong Kit, Huang Bin-Yuan, Danny Lee Sau-Yin, Victoria Wu Yu-Jun, Bernice Liu Bik-Yi, Jim Chim Sui-Man, Carl Ng Ka-Lung, Hui Siu-Hung, GC Goo Bi, Yuen Wai-Ho
The Skinny: Throwback to early nineties Hong Kong cop comedies that's as scattershot and unfocused as those films were. Unfortunately, the formula hasn't aged well, resulting in an uneven, throwaway movie. Heat Team is occasionally amusing and even fun, but don't expect it to make any sense.
Review
by Kozo:
     Since director Dante Lam was responsible for some truly entertaining genre films, it wouldn't be a stretch to hope that Heat Team is a hit. The teaming of Aaron Kwok and Eason Chan is an intriguing, though questionably desirable one, and the cop comedy genre has had few homeruns since its nineties heyday. Unfortunately, Heat Team possesses neither standout action nor comedy, and mixes the elements in a completely unconvincing manner. It's okay that the film is uneven, as most action-comedies are, but since it can't summon the ability to A) have great action, B) have hilarious comedy, or C) be coherent, the result can only be middling stuff. Heat Team can be amusing and even occasionally fun, but it's no homerun. It's more like a blooper single that caught the shortstop napping.
     Y.T. Lee (Aaron Kwok) and K.C. Chan (Eason Chan) are a pair of Hong Kong's top Interpol agents, each with a reputation that precedes them. Y.T. is known to be a top shooter, though a bit clueless with women. Meanwhile, K.C. is a big-time player, and is supposedly a tough nut to crack. We first meet these "heroes" when they defuse a hostage situation where both the perpetrator and the hostage are victims of K.C.'s legendary libido. Y.T.'s solution? To hold K.C. (who, if you recall, is also a cop) hostage until somebody loses their cool and fires off a shot. Successful? Yeah. The work of ace law enforcement officials? Probably not. But such is the world of Heat Team, where cops do very little actual law enforcing, and basically spend their time following random leads, hitting on coworkers, compromising their jobs for their personal lives, and even using the station house as Thunderdome for the feuding Y.T. and K.C. There are bad guys too, but only because an action movie requires it. Yes, it's that kind of movie.
      For some unknown reason, Y.T and K.C. are sent to work for a special police task force, headed by Bobo (singer Yumiko Cheng), who's going to be getting married soon and needs a couple of decent replacements. According to their smarmy chief (Danny Lee), Y.T. and K.C. Are the best cops around, and the two begin their tenure by breaking rules, bickering with one another in a strange and bewildering manner, and generally doing nothing that actually looks like policework. Luckily, some semblance of a plot appears. Renowned jewel thief Ken (Huang Bin-Yuan) figures on pulling one big job and escaping with his lady love Yu-Fung (Victoria Wu). But there's betrayal afoot, thanks to evil bad guy Dave Wong, and a number of circumstances which hardly register as important, much less interesting. Eventually, it's time for Y.T. and K.C. to put aside their differences, man up, and take down the bad guys with all the extreme skills Interpol dudes of their caliber are supposed to possess. But again, the above happens only because an action movie requires it. If you're looking for logical, well-developed filmmaking, then Heat Team should be way down your list.
     Director Dante Lam has recently been one of Hong Kong's more prolific directors, and his work has ranged from excellent (Beast Cops, Jiang Hu - the Triad Zone) to interesting (Runaway, When I Look Upon the Stars) to solid (Hit Team, Option Zero) to just plain unfathomable (Twins Effect, Naked Ambition). Regardless of quality, his films have usually been sturdy productions, and Heat Team follows suit. The cinematography and art direction are well above average, and Lam gives Heat Team solid pacing, adding entertaining style and flair to even prosaic moments, from the routine action sequences to stationhouse stand-offs between Y.T., K.C., and Bobo, the worst-named female cop in the history of cinema. Even though it makes no sense, Heat Team doesn't truly bore.
     Also, the comedy isn't the annoying "wah"-style popularized by Wong Jing and Stephen Chow, and relies more on situations and occasionally smart comic acting. Aaron Kwok is a likable straight man to Eason Chan's obnoxious cop, who's such a player because of his remarkable sensitivity to women. The two cops' differing rapport with women makes for some interesting moments when Yu-Fung is captured, and Victoria Wu's sexy performance adds some spice. Yumiko Cheng provides her own innocent-sexy screen presence, and Danny Lee has some fun with his supporting role. And the action sequences, though not great, aren't uninteresting. Despite some nay-saying (the film was critically slaughtered), Heat Team does provide some meager amusement for your film-going dollar. It's an uneven, illogical piece of filmmaking, but it manages to possess more spark than the competent, but ultimately colorless Moving Targets. For throwaway fluff, Heat Team fits the bill.
     But is that enough to make it worth recommending? Uh...probably not. From a truly critical standpoint, Heat Team is a total waste of time, and should be left off of any Hong Kong Cinema recommendation list. Aside from the lapses in logic and the utter weightlessness of the production, the film possesses the most uninteresting bad guys of perhaps the last three years. Heat Team gives us three male baddies: the blankly charismatic and underused Huang Yuan-Bin, the smarmy and annoying Carl Ng, and the supposedly menacing, but totally undeveloped Dave Wong, who barely says a word and is supposed to be the main baddie of the film. There's also a fourth "bad" guy, Bobo's idiotic fiancé, played with scenery-chewing gracelessness by the ubiquitous Jim Chim Sui-Man. In both Heat Team and Super Model, the audience is supposed to believe that a fresh-faced young woman (Yumiko Cheng and Karena Lam, respectively) would find the frankly unattractive and annoying Jim Chim to be some sort of an ideal marriage prospect. Well, I didn't buy it, and I'm willing to bet money that the vast majority of the filmgoing audience didn't either. Among Heat Team's most egregious lapses of logic, this one shoots right to the top of the list.
     Not that the physical attractiveness of Jim Chim is an accurate measure of quality, because it isn't. It's just another unexplained moment of weirdness in a production filled with the unexplainable. Y.T. and K.C. start off as supposedly antagonistic cops, but their rivalry is subdued to the point of nonexistence. Likewise, the attraction between Bobo and K.C. comes virtually out of nowhere, and the big standoff where Y.T., K.C., And Bobo go at it in the stationhouse with dummy bullets is completely inane. It's great to see Aaron Kwok and Eason Chan go at it in Hong Kong Cinema guns-blazing style, but when they start trashing their own workplace, you'd think somebody would have an issue. But hey, this is also a film where the two male leads nearly share a moment of intimacy. K.C. offers to give Y.T. a thorough oral examination using his tongue, and Y.T. accepts the challenge. The moment occurs as sort of a lothario lesson by K.C., And Eason Chan and Aaron Kwok manage to make the joke work, but let's face it: it's weird, and utterly pointless. But in a movie filled with oddball, unexplainable moments and genuinely aimless storytelling, you could almost call that the highlight. No doubt some people out there would tune in to check that out, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but even I was a little amused. Heat Team possesses the occasional guilty pleasure, which may not be much, but it's something. (Kozo 2004)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
2-Disc Set
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Trailers, deleted scenes, "Making of" featurette

images courtesy of Universe Entertainment

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