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Nick Cheung and Aaron Kwok in CONSPIRATORS

Nick Cheung and Aaron Kwok conspire in Conspirators.

Chinese: 同謀  
Year: 2013  
Director: Oxide Pang Chun  
Writer: Oxide Pang Chun, Wu Meng-Zhang, Pang Pak-Sing
Action: Wong Choon-Meng
Cast: Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, Nick Cheung Ka-Fai, Jiang Yiyan, Chen Kuan-Tai, Lin Wei, Chaos Lee, Siu Fei, Ah Niu
The Skinny: Oxide Pang-directed thriller does little to justify its exsitence as the third film in a long-running franchise. Passably entertaining for fans of Aaron Kwok or the Detective series but not recommended for anyone else. Nick Cheung is a highlight, though.
by Kozo:
Finally, it’s the third and final film in that Hong Kong movie franchise that you never asked for. Aaron Kwok returns to cinema screens as Tam, the Thailand-based private dick who we first met in director Oxide Pang’s hit The Detective (2007). The Chinese title for Detective rated Tam a “C+ Detective” and in The Detective 2 (2011), Tam progressed to “B+” status. Unfortunately, Tam does not get a promotion to “A+” for this threequel, and instead gets a lab partner in co-star Nick Cheung. Conspirators finds Tam investigating the 30 year-old murder of his parents, which caused his angst in the original Detective. Given a tip at the close of Detective 2, Tam heads to Malaysia and meets Chai In (Chen Kuan-Tai), an old friend of his parents who immediately name-drops other suspicious people while hinting that Tam should cease his investigation. Chai In knows more than he’s letting on and Tam is well aware of it.

That pattern continues, with each new stop on Tam’s investigation involving a sit down with a suspect who drops a few more names before letting on that he knows something that Tam doesn’t. In Internet speak, these people would be called trolls. Out of his element, Tam hires local detective Zheng Fong-Hei (Cheung), whose sardonic demeanor and Ekin Cheng-like coiffure make him a questionable individual but a pretty cool movie character. Sadly, even Fong-Hei’s help is not enough to escape the name-dropping round robin as Tam travels all over Asia – from Malaysia to Thailand to Guangzhou – meeting new people and getting more runaround. Clues and information do get uncovered but this is a remarkably uninteresting and confusing way to tell a story. It’s also unnecessary because the characters occasionally stop the movie to sum up everything that the audience should know. Convenience, coincidence, rampant exposition, illogical storytelling – Conspirators possesses a minefield of scriptwriting problems.

Director Oxide Pang does bring back his trademark filtered-color visuals, though any bonus is purely superficial. Once upon a time, the Pang Brothers visual style was intriguing and edgy, but now it’s just what’s necessary to keep continuity between Detective movies. Conversely, Aaron Kwok’s character seems to lack continuity from previous films. Tam is a far cry from the dorky, borderline incompetent character that so entertained in The Detective, and Kwok’s performance is nothing new. Luckily, Nick Cheung is around to save the film. Cheung’s Zheng Fong-Hei is a Wing Chun-practicing private dick whose cynicism adds welcome humor to the mix. Cheung rescues the film from its largely self-serious tone, and Pang introduces occasional humor and action to change things up. Supporting actors are mostly unremarkable, with Jiang Yiyan making the largest impression because she’s pretty and also the only female in the cast. These are the straws we grasp at.

The bare bones of a decent thriller are present in Conspirators but Pang lacks the focus or skill to make it gripping or convincing. The film does offer a few clever twists, but they aren’t adequately foreshadowed or justified. Basically, if you want to be smart and add plot twists to your movie, it helps if you write a story that allows those plot twists to matter. Otherwise, what you’ve just done is simply withhold information from the audience until limply revealing it later. All told, only undemanding audiences or Aaron Kwok completists will be happy with Conspirators, as it provides passably entertaining elements but little of the surprise or creativity to qualify as good. With stuff like Sleepwalker and The Messengers cluttering their filmography, Oxide Pang and his brother Danny have steadily squandered the cred they earned from The Eye. Conspirators does nothing to reverse that. (Kozo, 4/2013)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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