Chan is Cho, a recently released ex-con who was convicted
of a triad killing. His incarceration was unjust, since
he wasn't the true culprit. The true killer was childhood
buddy Dik (Patrick Tam), but Cho took the rap for his pal,
thus paving the way for a long prison sentence.
the majority of his adult life behind bars, Cho isn't too
eager to return to prison, and thus wants nothing to do
with the triads. The reverse isn't true: Dik misses his
old pal, but Cho is still resentful that Dik never visited
him in prison. Dik did, however, keep tabs on Cho via a
nearby apartment and a telescope. He acknowledges that Cho
doesn't want the triad life anymore, but wants to help his
buddy out in any way that he can.
Though he's initially hesitant,
Cho is genuinely touched by his old pal's stalking technique.
He agrees to let Dik bankroll a new restaurant, and installs
himself as the head chef. Life seems good, as he's able
to help out his long-suffering sister (Amanda Lee), and
even meets the attractive San (Cherrie Ying). And, he and
Dik manage to regain their old friendship.
Still, this is a triad drama, so
things begin to turn sour. Cho begins having doubts about
Dik, who appears to enjoy the violence of triad life a little
too much. He also gets approached by the cops, who are led
by the laughably intense Simon Lui. They threaten to send
Cho back to jail if he doesn't become their mole. It also
turns out that San is the mistress to Mr. Fong, the head
guy in Dik's triad. And, unsavory triad types harass Cho
in his restaurant. Poor guy.
The script (by Simon Lui,
Kelvin Lee and director Marco Mak) is remarkably competent,
considering that the conflicts and characters are typical
genre types. The Dik/Cho dynamic remains interesting throughout,
thanks to a few effective plot points and the dignified
performances of the lead actors. Jordan Chan and Patrick
Tam give so much weight to their standard genre characters
that it's almost uncomfortable. Had the filmmakers overemphasized
the homoeroticism and added some over-the-top gunplay, The
Wall could have been a low-rent version of John Woo's
A Better Tomorrow.
However, current triad dramas tend
to be restrained and respectful, and director Marco Mak
follows suit here. The build-up to Cho and Dik's seemingly-eventual
showdown is subdued, and depends on character and performance
to get the job done. As such, the filmmakers are only partially
successful. While the performances are fine, the characters
have a hard time maintaining credibility. Cho says he wants
to stay out of trouble, but he spends all his time with
triads and continues a relationship with his boss' girlfriend.
Given the film's deliberate development of plot and character,
Cho's actions seem incredibly unrealistic - not to mention
Still, the film can be a decent
time for fans of either Jordan Chan or Patrick Tam. Both
actors have previously turned in fine work, and both approach
their roles in The Wall with remarkable gravity.
As such, they mostly - if not entirely - redeem the film's
eventual mediocrity. (Kozo 2002)