SILENT WITNESS (2013) review


Lin Mengmeng (Deng Jiajia), the daughter of famous, wealthy and arrogant entrepreneur Lin Tai (Sun Honglei), is accused of having killed her stepmother, a famous singer called Yang Dan, after confronting her over her infidelities to her father, made public in a paparazzi video showing her having a one-night stand with an actor. Lin Tai claims his daughter is innocent and hires China’s highest-paid lawyer, Zhou Li (Yu Nan), while public prosecution is handled by Tong Tao (Aaron Kwok), a brilliant lawyer with a spotless record, who’s been trying to nail Lin Tai for years over finally unproven charges of fraud. But after CCTV footage and a key testimony lead, on the first day of the highly-publicized trial, to the slightly too convenient conclusion that the father’s driver is the actual culprit, the truth starts to unravel as both defense and prosecution claw to the truth and receive clues from a mysterious source as to what lies beneath the clear-cut appearances.


CHINA STRIKE FORCE (2000) short review

With a cast that is kind of interesting in its own warped way (Hong Kong heartthrob Aaron Kwok, American-born Taiwanese singer Wang Leehom, Miss Japan 1992 Norika Fujiwara, underrated Hawaiian cypher Mark Dacascos and American rapper/awful actor Coolio, no less), and an experienced action director at the helm (Jackie Chan’s main yes man Stanley Tong), China Strike Force is, at least, entertaining. The forgettable and trite plot involves two Chinese agents (Kwok and Wang) tracking drug smugglers (Dacascos and Coolio), and the possible double-agent (Fujiwara) stuck in between. Coolio is punishingly bad and drags the whole thing down, but most of the action scenes are impressive, especially the vertigo-inducing final fight on a pane of glass dangling from the top of a skyscraper. Stanley Tong proves yet again that he’s one of the best action directors around, and Ailen Sit’s choreography is superbly fluid and weirdly balletic. By now, you’ve guessed that China Strike Force only has its action going for it. **


DIVERGENCE (2005) review

Benny Chan’s Divergence proceeds directly from the overwhelming and international success of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. It is not a cash-in, mind you : the kinship here is mainly to be seen in the tight storytelling refusing to be overly explanatory, the cold urban aesthetics and the stellar cast. The Hong-Kong superstar Aaron Kwok plays Suen, a cop whose girlfriend disappeared 10 years ago, and who’s never stopped looking for her, including at the morgue. He has been assigned to the protection of a key witness in the high-stakes trial of a corrupt businessman. The businessman’s lawyer (portrayed by Ekin Cheng) happens to be married to a woman looking remarkably like his long-lost girlfriend. That, coupled with the fact that the witness gets killed by a hitman called Coke (played by Daniel Wu), triggers a chain of events that put Suen’s mental and physical health to the test.