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Colour of the Truth
   |     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |   

     "You aim for his head, and I'll aim for his crotch."

Anthony Wong and Raymond Wong shoot people in Colour of the Truth.

Year: 2002

Director: Wong Jing, Marco Mak Chi-Sin  
Producer: Wong Jing  
Writer: Wong Jing  
Cast: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Chapman To Man-Chat, Terence Yin, Winnie Leung Man-Yi, Pinky Cheung Man-Chi, Berg Ng Ting-Yip, Patrick Tse Yin, Lau Ching-Wan, Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Isabel Chan Yat-Ning, James Wong Ka-Lok, Carl Ng Ka-Lung
The Skinny: Branded as an Infernal Affairs clone, this surprisingly good cop thriller possesses a good story and fine tension, which more than makes up for the occasional patch of not-so-hot acting. Biggest surprise of all: Wong Jing wrote and co-directed this film. Is this the end of the world?
by Kozo:

     What the hell? Colour of the Truth is a serious cop thriller with semi-Infernal Affairs overtones, and it's written, produced and co-directed by Wong Jing! And it's actually pretty good! Could this be the end of the world? Or simply an aberration in the career of an otherwise annoyingly prolific and unrepentantly cheesy filmmaker? At least one thing is certain: Colour of the Truth is better than Wong Jing's last five films combined, and possibly even his last twelve. Do the math.
     Anthony Wong is Officer Huang, who once was present when two high-profile individuals cashed it in. The men were Blind Chiu (Francis Ng in a cameo) and cop Seven-Up (Lau Ching-Wan, also in a cameo), and Huang most definitely plugged Blind Chiu. The official story on Seven-Up is that he died in the line of duty, but the scuttlebutt is that Huang killed Seven-Up too. That story is the one Seven-Up's son, Cola (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin), swears upon. Only a child when his father died, Cola has now grown into a top policeman, but still bears an enormous grudge against Huang. Luckily his mom (Pinky Cheung) remarried twice so his name no longer resembles his father. Nobody in the force seems to know his true identity, which allows him to hate Huang anonymously.
     However, there's another Huang-hater out there. Ray (Jordan Chan) is Blind Chiu's son, and also holds a massive grudge against Huang. Now a businessman (he turned his dad's evil assets into legitimate holdings), he has helped Cola silently for years, and now shows up to proffer this devil's bargain: join forces to destroy Huang. Since Huang was the one who killed both their dads, revenge should be in order, but Cola isn't so sure. Having recently been assigned to Huang's unit, he's discovered that Huang is a stoic but tough cop with hidden nice qualitites. Cola has become even closer to Huang thanks to their current assignment—the terrorizing of a retired gang boss (Patrick Tse AKA: father of trouble) by evil Vietnamese bad guy Terence Yin—and seemingly stays loyal. However, Ray continues to pressure Cola into coming over to the dark side, and if Huang really did kill his dad, Cola just might give in.
     What makes Colour of the Truth immediately stand out is its story. Wong Jing, who was given sole credit on the script, managed to come up with an excellent crime premise, and he keeps his eye on the ball for the majority of the film. The details of Cola's youth and torn loyalties are well-developed and believable. Huang is a compelling character who's murky at first, but as the film progresses, he becomes more known to both Cola and the audience. Narratively, Wong Jing keeps the focus tight. In revealing Huang's humanity as Cola learns of it, he seems to follow that fabled storytelling advice: show not tell. Also, the double-crosses and new developments are suitably handled. There are some missteps, like the occasional voiceover and Chapman To's character, who seems to be in the film mostly to give Chapman To more work. Aren't there other semi-goofy comic-relief guys in Hong Kong besides Chapman To?
     Still, To turns in a decent performance, which can't necessarily be said for the rest of the cast. Raymond Wong has decent screen presence, but in a lead role he's out of his depth. He glowers and acts tough for the majority of the film, but he never seems to be far from the nice kid he played in all those Johnnie To movies. Likewise Gillian Chung (as Patrick Tse's daughter Katie) is cute and expressive, but her delivery is without much weight. Wong Jing has never been known for his ability to direct actors. Typically, he operates off strengths that may or may not already exist. If someone isn't such a hot actor (i.e., Raymond Wong), Wong Jing isn't going to make him into one. As such, not all Cola's decisions seem earned. Raymond Wong may act according to the script, but he doesn't really add much to what's written.
     Thankfully, the film also stars people like Anthony Wong and Jordan Chan. Chan is effectively charismatic as Ray, and adds some minor subtlety to his role. Likewise, Anthony Wong is exceptional as Huang. His performance is suitably opaque, bringing both humanity and even a layer of darkness to his character. The performance is not really up to Wong's sublime work in Beast Cops or Infernal Affairs, but it's a fine star turn and fittingly iconic. Want somebody to play a believably human police officer? Anthony Wong is your man. He's also your man if evil psychos and benevolent father figures are being cast. Given the range of his work, it seems like Wong can do almost anything.
     Wong Jing co-directed with Marco Mak, so it would be easy to assume that any facility in the direction was not Wong's responsiblity. However, since we don't know that for sure, we'll go the magnanimous route: Wong Jing's direction is solid and appropriately stylish. None of the style really means anything, and ultimately Colour of the Truth doesn't qualify as anything more than a solid crime film. Still, the rare attention to story and the effective flashes of action (something missing from Infernal Affairs) makes Colour of the Truth worth recommending. Wow, Wong Jing made a good movie. This could be the end of the world. (Kozo 2003)

Notes: Colour of the Truth seems to have been cut for violence. One pivotal action sequence is edited in a jarring fashion, and scene continuity is poor. The film is still worth watching, but the quick fix to a likely Category rating issue makes the film look cheap and more like an obvious product.
Awards: 40th Annual Golden Horse Awards
• Winner - Best Original Film Score (Marco Wan Ho-Kit)
• Nomination - Best Action Choreography (Lee Tat-Chiu)
10th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
• Recommended Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy Mei Ah Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen