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Set to Kill
Chinese: 借兵
Ning Jing and Raymond Wong
Year: 2005
Director: Marco Mak Chi-Sin
Cast: Ning Jing, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, Carl Ng Ka-Lung, Isabel Chan Yat-Ning, Berg Ng Ting-Yip, Johnny Chen (Lu Sze-Ming), Marco Lok Lik-Wai, Lau Siu-Ming
The Skinny: Marco Mak's crime thriller is cheap-looking and clichéd, but it's also competently directed and possessing of some oddly charming B-movie thrills. An average-to-worse Hong Kong thriller that's diverting, if nothing else. Marco Mak has made better films.
by Kozo:

Director Marco Mak attempts to resurrect his Colour of the Truth glory with Set to Kill, a rare 2005 attempt at the Hong Kong crime film. Raymond Wong is Nick, a tough bodyguard/triad assigned to protect Connie (Ning Jing), who's being targeted for assassination by some unknown person of nefarious disposition. There's an embezzling scam going on at Connie's company, and the person suffering happens to be a major crime lord. Connie swears she didn't do it, but the only other likely culprit is her fiancé Billy (Johnny Lu). Oddly, nobody is targeting Billy for death. This can't make for comfortable pillow talk.

Billy is concerned for Connie's welfare, so he puts in a good word with Uncle Ghost (Lau Siu-Ming) to get her a bodyguard unit, consisting of Nick, Big Brother (Berg Ng), Fei (Marco Lok), and Lisa (Isabel Chan). The quartet shadow Connie Mission-style, though in a much more sloppy and uncharismatic manner than the five ultra-cool guys from Johnnie To's 1999 classic. Complicating matters is the fact that Connie and Nick were previously involved. Complicating matters even more is the fact that Nick and Lisa were also once involved. And to make the complexity absolutely unbearable, there are numerous shadowy alliances, possible double-crosses, and crappy intentions out there. Nobody is who they seem to be, and everyone has their own agenda. This obviously can't end well.

Set to Kill earns points immediately because it's a crime thriller in an age where crime thrillers are few and far between. That said, the film is only average stuff, and likely would have been swept under the rug back in 1998 or 1999, when Johnnie To was producing the best crime stuff to come out of the region. Marco Mak can't manufacture a classic out of his screenplay, which features clichéd situations and uninteresting characters, all backed up with routine, uncharismatic acting. The action itself is staged in a sometimes sloppy manner, complete with CGI squibs and actors brandishing guns unconvincingly.

Still, for a routine crime thriller, Set to Kill does the job in a suitably average way. Marco Mak keeps things moving quick enough that the cheapness of the production never seems to intrude. The twists and turns are diverting if not compelling, and it's certainly nice to see people pointing guns at one another in a Hong Kong movie. It used to be that the Mexican Standoff was commonplace in Hong Kong Cinema. That rarely happens anymore, so even a cheap knockoff like Set to Kill can earn some minor genre cred by employing that once overused cinema device. But the key word here is definitely "minor". Compared to previous Marco Mak efforts like Colour of the Truth or even The Blood Rules, Set to Kill can hardly compare. (Kozo 2006)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Panorama Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen