THE FALLEN (2019) short review

A powerful crime syndicate, responsible for most of the crystal meth production in Southeast Asia, is in danger of being torn apart between Vulcan (Eddie Chen) and Tempest (Kenny Kwan), both potential heirs to megalomaniac current leader “The Don” (Melvin Wong), until a wild card is introduced: Rain Fuyu (Irene Wan), The Don’s adoptive daughter, trained by him to one day succeed him, until she disappeared 20 years ago. Now she’s back, and she meets the much younger Snow Fuyu (Hanna Chan), herself The Don’s illegitimate daughter. Lee Cheuk Pan’s The Fallen feels a little bit like the kind of film you would get if, say, Wong Kar Wai and Godfrey Ho ever co-directed a Category III film: it’s got the shallow grasp of logic and sleazy, exploitative tendencies of the latter, but the visual flair and elliptic storytelling of the former. All of this under a thick coat of pretentious – yet often inspired – oneiric imagery. Its non-linear narrative allows for a surprise or two, but most of its characters are either cackling grotesques (Kenny Kwan makes our ears bleed with his wild-eyed, language-hopping performance, while Eddie Chen thinks he’s playing Satan himself) or boring cyphers (Hanna Chan has all the mystery of a low-energy teenager). It’s nice to see good old Melvin Wong, in his first film in 17 years and still excelling in charismatic scumbag roles, and the evergreen Irene Wan could have had here a fine comeback role. But Lee Cheuk Pan is more interested in incestuous sex, filial cruelty and endless meth trips to let the heart of the story (the portrait of a survivor, Rain Fuyu) beat properly. **

CAUGHT IN TIME (2020) review

Lau Ho Leung’s second feature film after the amusing caper Two Thumbs Up – which itself capped off a decade of writing films for the likes of Johnnie To, Gordon Chan, Daniel Lee, Derek Yee, Herman Yau or Teddy Chen – Caught in Time is loosely based on real events: the crime spree of cunning, ruthless bank robber Zhang Jun (Daniel Wu) throughout the nineties in several provinces of Mainland China. Wang Qianyuan plays dogged cop Zhong Cheng, an amalgamation of the police detectives that relentlessly chased Zhang, until his arrest in 2000.