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Moving Targets

(left) Nicholas Tse, and (right) Edison Chen in Wong Jing's Moving Targets.
Year: 2004
Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Edison Chen, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Roy Chow Wing-Hung, Wu An, Shu Qao, Michelle Mai Suet, Ken Tong Chun-Yip, Lam Suet, David Lee Wai-Seung, Wan Chi-Keung, Samuel Leung Cheuk-Moon, Roderick Lam Chung-Kei
The Skinny: Update of popular TVB show has only superficial relation to its inspiration, and instead seems to be a cross between Gen-X Cops and Infernal Affairs - though it's nowhere near as good as either film. Director-writer-producer Wong Jing gets enough mileage out of his cookie-cutter script to make Moving Targets passably involving, but overall this is an uninspiring and unnecessary movie.
by Kozo:

     Wong Jing raids TVB's vaults for Moving Targets, a 2004 film update of the popular Police Cadet serials from the 1980s. The original show starred Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Lau Ching-Wan, Maggie Cheung and Carina Lau, among others, and was about the soap opera lives of police cadets and their journey from lowly innocence to eventual destiny. Well, throw all that out for Moving Targets. As a ninety-minute exercise in commercial filmmaking, Moving Targets eschews most of the show's defining characteristics and substitutes hot young stars and popular current themes. The result is a passably involving, though questionably good action drama that plays like Gen-X Cops meets Infernal Affairs. And this much is obvious: none of these hot young stars can hold a candle to their eighties counterparts.
     Nicholas Tse is Cheung Wai-Kit, an incredibly handsome young cop whose physical beauty is only matched by his best bud and colleague, Fit (Edison Chen). Both guys have other things in common: they're overprotective of their mothers to the point of distraction, and both have something to do with bookish, sweet Wing (Gillian Chung), who loves Kit and is loved by Fit. Kit has no time for hooking up anyway, since he's obsessed with bringing down his wayward father Cheung Tit-Man (Simon Yam), who once upon a time shot at his wife (Michelle Mai Shuet), and has since been absent from any and all family gatherings. Kit initially starts under Cheung Tit-Man, but gets his shot to stick it to his old man when
ICAC officer Nicole (Shu Qao) offers him a job with her squad. Since his dad is apparently involved in some murky dealings, the opportunity to nail him is appealing to Kit.
     But for Kit to transfer to ICAC, it involves leaving buddies Fit, Cheun (Roy Chow), and Ho (Wu An) behind. That's not a big deal for Cheun and Ho, because both are totally peripheral characters who seem to be in the film for the following possible reasons: A) eye candy, B) comedy relief, C) appeal to Taiwan or Mainland investors, or D) cannon fodder. It's a big deal for Fit, though, who could use his buddy's support. Just as Nicole launches a stationwide molehunt (shades of Infernal Affairs), Fit is drawn into potential shady dealings with evil drug dealer Big Bryan (Ken Tong). Using Fit's mom and her dopey boyfriend Fat Seven (Lam Suet, in another of his cartoony patriarch roles), Big Bryan tries to coerce Fit to the dark side. Despite Fit's seemingly righteous ways, Big Bryan may have some dirt on the kid. If Fit gives in to Big Bryan's bullying, then he may be on a collision course for conflict with Kit. Will friend oppose friend, or will Kit and Fit band together to rout the bad guys like the Gen-X-Y-Z Cops that they are? And will Gillian Chung do anything in Moving Targets besides appear every now and then to pout and/or look adorable?
     Wong Jing assembles a who's who of hot EEG popstars for his Moving Targets cast, and gets decent acting from them. While he's not Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Nicholas Tse is believably intense and emotional as Cheung Wai-Kit. Likewise, Edison Chen is no Lau Ching-Wan, but he turns in a surprisingly solid performance as the morally murky Fit. Given his unspectacular but decent work in both Moving Targets and Jiang Hu, it looks like Chen could escape his much-maligned "I cannot act" pigeonholing and become a dependable second banana player. It also goes without saying that Gillian Chung is no Maggie Cheung, but her lack of anything besides flower vase duty in Moving Targets is hardly her fault. Ken Tong exudes hissable sliminess as Big Bryan, and the rest of the cast is uniformly unobtrusive if not interesting. However, everyone in the film is absolutely destroyed by Simon Yam, who brings smoldering low-key gravity to his role as Cheung Tit-Man. Whenever Yam is on the screen, his presence knocks the crap out of his co-stars, even if he isn't doing anything.
     However, even though the acting is reasonably solid, the story and direction fall a few notches short. A lot happens in Moving Targets, but it's all squeezed into a ninety-minute sprint of quick drama and only mildly-developed conflicts. Wong Jing pays homage to his TVB inspiration by giving the film some minor backstory, but the character flashbacks seem to be there only to get Gillian Chung into the pigtails-and-glasses look which was Maggie Cheung's trademark on Police Cadet. Also, many of the relationships are only glossed over, and Fit's flirtation with the dark side is woefully underdeveloped. Wong Jing creates some complex situations, but the way his characters act seems more illogical than anything else. Also, much of the plot seems driven by the hellaciously lame police force, who either shaft people with their stupidity, or resign their own ranks to poor fates because of moronic bureaucracy. Wong Jing does move things along efficiently, but as usual his direction is colorless, and without any consistency of character or tone. He also resorts to really obnoxious "tricks", including split-screens, and the occasional MTV-influenced camera move, which feel more jarring than effective. On the whole, Hong Kong's leading schlockmeister doesn't ruin the film, but he isn't that much of a help either.
     Moving Targets is exactly what it feels like: a ninety-minute exercise in commercially-made filmmaking intended for an undemanding teen audience. For what it is, the film provides some minor entertainment, but is hardly a film worth seeking out. The people who will enjoy Moving Targets are the people the film was made for: fans of Nic Tse, Gillian Chung, or Edison Chen, and not people who go to the movies to find challenging emotions or surprising filmmaking. On that note, it's surprising that the film had such a lousy box office reception, as it does exactly what its target audience expects it to. It would great if the financial failure of Moving Targets was a sign of shifting audience taste, i.e. moviegoers are tired of cookie-cutter stuff starring a passel of not-ready-for-primetime players. However, that's doubtful, since many of Wong Jing's more crass - and much worse - movies like Love is a Many Stupid Thing actually manage some minor cash before drifting away into obscurity. Moving Targets just seems like bad luck, as it's not bad enough to warrant a flop, but not good enough to be memorable. Maybe it just means that *gasp* Nic Tse, Edison Chen, and Gillian Chung are not really as popular as EEG would like us to believe. (Kozo 2004)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
2-Disc Set

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Trailers, music video, "Making of" featurette, photo gallery

images courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen