Movie Review: Shuang xiong (2003)
English translation: Heroic Duo
Review by J. Rocci
Rating: Rated R for violent content
Starring: Ekin Cheng, Leon Lai
The plot summary listed on imdb.com makes absolutely no sense, so I'll just say this is a cop suspense / thriller movie with a supernatural element, set in Hong Kong, where a police officer tracking down leads on a case teams up with a criminal bent on revenge.
Directed by Benny Chan (Jackie Chan's brother, and writer/director of Gen X Cops, another favorite), and starring Ekin Cheng (Vampire Effect, Tekken, Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero) and Leon Lai (Battle Arena Toshinden). I could only find it available to watch in original Cantonese with subtitles, but I think we know how I feel on that by now :)
I was expecting something along the lines of Gen X Cops when I watched this, and I was pleasantly surprised when Chan took a rather far-fetched premise -- hypnotist criminal, for real? -- and made a well-written, serious film about it that had me on my seat through almost the entire movie. Throughout, you get a feel for each of the characters, even down to the secondary ones like Cheng's subordinates on the force and Lai's wife and friends, and what I liked the most was that their actions all make sense for their personalities, even if it's unexpected behavior.
The plot is kind of twisting, and a little slow in the beginning as we get through all the exposition, but it definitely picks up in action after the first quarter-mark. I liked the undertone between Lai's character, Jack, and the main bad guy, Hoi, played by Francis Ng (Gen X Cops, A Man Called Hero, Second Strike, Bride with White Hair), and that really went a long way in explaining why Hoi was messing with Jack's head and life.
Visually, the settings were interesting and diverse, and the action was well-choreographed (But what do you expect from Chan?), and there were a few chase scenes that rocked. My only issue with the action is that sometimes cops were gunned down just out of the blue, and that never sits well with me. But the whole hypnotism aspect, while at times a little unrealistic in the speed people went under (just twice out of almost a dozen hypnoses), was obviously researched and handled scientifically, just with a little more of a non-APA twist to it, which I liked.
I accepted the ending, because by that point, I couldn't have seen it going any other way. But I wasn't really upset at any of it, since the character motivations were clear and true to what we'd been shown up to that point. So yes.
Good movie. Definitely gets in your head. I'd recommend it if you like action and intelligent mystery.