Director Herman Yau goes overboard with Turning Point 2, the sequel to TVB drama Lives of Omission, which was a sequel to TVB drama E.U., which was itself the third in the series of police dramas. Whew! The confusion does not end there. The star of Turning Point 2 is undercover cop Laughing Gor (Michael Tse), who was a breakout character in E.U. - and his popularity was so pronounced that they resurrected him, gave him a prequel movie (Turning Point 1) and had him headline Lives of Omission before ending that series on an open note and closing things out with Turning Point 2. Herman Yau directed both Turning Point movies, and both co-star Francis Ng. However, Ng plays different characters in both movies. What the heck? Can someone draw up an infographic for all of this?
You may wish to belay that request, because what Yau does next is so unexpected and astonishing that it cannot be communicated with an infographic: Herman Yau makes Turning Point 2 into a political film. Yep, besides being the sequel to a TVB drama about undercover cops, Turning Point 2 features mucho ethical-political babble about how there’s no real right or wrong, and how all revolutions began with people breaking the law. Also, the film discusses that even if you break a law you may not actually be committing a crime – ergo, one may consider breaking the law if greater philosophical, sociological or narrative good comes from it. For example: if Mao Zedong, the Occupy Movement or Ferris Bueller chooses to break the law then it’s okay because all of them espouse a higher cause and will bring about positive change through their law-breaking. Or something. Man, this movie is deep!
At least it tries to be. Turning Point 2 picks up with Laughing in jail, where he was sent after he apparently shot and killed stool pigeon Michael (Bosco Wong) in Lives of Omission. Joining Laughing in jail is Fok Tin-Nam (Francis Ng), a super-intelligent psychiatrist framed for drug possession. Maybe. Fok may be in the slammer as part of an undercover investigation – and hey, Laughing might be too! But didn't he kill Michael at the end of Lives of Omission? Or was Michael’s murder part of an elaborate scheme to get in the joint and go undercover? And what's corrupt cop Lau Ching-Chit (Chapman To) doing in jail besides acting insane, taking showers and showing off his ass? Meanwhile, Michael's widow Paris (Kate Tsui) hates Laughing because he killed Michael, and Fok Tin-Nam is counseling her via a creepy "transference" therapy where she’s hypnotized into thinking he's Michael when he really isn't. Here's where discussion on the Hippocratic Oath should be invoked.
But if Turning Point 2 took the time to dissect the ethics of doctor-patient relations, it would only add more talking to the film – and hey, we don't want that. Despite being a crime thriller, Turning Point 2 is loaded with dialogue instead of action. If it’s not pedantic ethical lectures, it’s terrible TVB-style exposition, e.g., the random ranting from Laughing’s handler Carmen (Janice Man). Despite being a cop, Carmen dresses in unprofessional hot chick attire and launches into unsolicited crying jags about how she’s still in her twenties, hasn’t visited Japan and is unfortunate because she’s seen a dead body. Francis Ng’s Fok Tin-Nam repeats his speech about right vs. wrong about ten times, at least five of which are to Laughing, who rightfully proclaims near the end of the film that he doesn’t know what the hell Fok is talking about. That’s one of the few instances when Laughing is a relatable character; most other times, Laughing broods or does exactly what the bad guy (Not really a spoiler: it’s Fok Tin-Nam) wants. Eventually, Laughing acts to set things right, and does he succeed?
Who cares, because the main point of Turning Point 2 isn’t the resolution of the narrative – it’s the droning messages on right versus wrong, dark versus light and how extreme utilitarianism should be worth considering. Despite being wielded by the film’s “bad guy,” the film’s murky ethics get so much airtime that they’re obviously meant to be more than rote character motivation. Even worse, Herman Yau has the gall to invoke Martin Luther King when dishing out one lecture – and the moment is as astounding as it is obvious. There’s a message here that someone wants us to consider. But you know what? We shouldn’t, because the film doesn't convince that its ethical or political discussions are worth considering, and even more, it’s not what this audience wants. There are ideas and debates in Turning Point 2 that would make for an intelligent film, but the filmmakers should have written them into something else, not shoehorned them into Laughing Gor 4.
That issue aside, Turning Point 2 has plenty of other problems that make it difficult to recommend. It’s clearly for fans of Lives of Omission, because it references the TV drama like you’ve seen it, and even uses that knowledge for dramatic currency. However, it’s not for fans who’ve only seen Turning Point 1, because without Lives of Omission knowledge, you’d be lost. There’s a big cast of recognizable actors here, but their performances vary wildly. Michael Tse is dour and uncharismatic – a big problem because he’s the main character – plus the script renders him a tool of others rather than a person who acts on his own accord. Kate Tsui overacts terribly, and while Francis Ng's speeches overflow with conviction, the actor delivers them in a strangely casual way. Add to all of this the pedantic speeches and the film’s outright refusal to satisfy its target audience – hell, this movie is just ill advised. Bottom line: if I want lectures, I’ll go back to school or attend a political rally, not watch Turning Point 2.