This wannabe Ringo Lam flick from Chiu Yen-Ping starts with
some promise, but rapidly devolves into something only slightly
above his normal fetid celluloid tragedies. Takeshi Kaneshiro
is a jailed cop who ends up forming bonds with the likes of
former boxer Nicky Wu and triad boss Lau Hok-Yin. Also among
the prisoners is Ng Man-Tat as a rich inmate and some bespectacled,
overweight actor who should be shot for his horrid overacting.
Anthony Wong has a large cameo as the warden.
At times, the film tries to be Shawshank
Redemption crossed with Prison on Fire, but it’s
too simplistic and poorly made to succeed. The drama is overdone
and clunky, and sometimes borders on the embarrassing. More
that wasn’t good: whatever complexity the film tries to mine
with its discussion of black versus white is lost by the end,
when everyone throws their principles out the window. Furthermore,
the subplot of Anthony Wong’s evil warden only surfaces in
the last twenty minutes, meaning that the previous eighty
are free of the forces behind the films denouement.
Acting-wise, Ng Man-Tat, Lau Hok-Yin,
and Takeshi Kaneshiro acquit themselves decently, though Kaneshiro
sometimes goes waaaay overboard with the acting. Still, overacting
is better than barely registering like his co-star Nicky Wu.
Wu is plastic as all hell, and the scenes between he and Kok
Siu-Man (the famous fat kid) blow huge. He’s totally unconvincing
as the kid's father. This could have been an okay time killer,
but Chiu Yen-Ping did his best to ruin the movie. He succeeded. (Kozo