VORTEX (2019) review

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In Jacky Gan’s debut feature, Da Peng plays Liu Xiaojun, a washed-up car mechanic and a degenerate gambler, deep in debt and relying on the support of his deceased father’s partner in the police, Wang Yong (Cao Weiyu). To try and get out of a 100,000 RMB debt, a desperate Liu accepts work from shady car dealer Lao Wan (Cao Bingkun); the job is simple: steal unregistered cars and bring them to him, so that he can re-paint and re-sell them. But things go south very soon: as Liu is stealing the first car, he is chased and shot at by two criminals, Xia Tao (Sha Baoliang) and his brother Xia Xi (Oho Ou). And having just managed to escape them, he realizes there’s a little girl, Qi Qi (Wulantuoya Duo) tied up in the trunk of the car. Yet this vortex of misfortune seems like it might lead to riches: it turns out she was kidnapped for ransom by the two criminals, and when answering a call from her mother on a phone that was in the car, Liu realizes he might well be able to collect the 2-million RMB ransom instead of them…

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