Ultimatum [2001]

Early on in his career, I identified Mr. Kant Leung as an up and coming filmmaker to keep one's eye upon. Some of his early works like The Demon's Baby [1998] and Violent Cop [2000] caught my fancy and I used the Happy Fortune website to promote those films [those reviews can be found from the main page search function]. With this 2001 feature, Mr. Leung began an extended downturn in positive critical assessment.

I saw this film on its initial DVD release; having a mixed reaction to it. The pacing of some sections of this film is dreadful; many shots are held a tick or two too long. Everything about the framing and shot selection seems just a bit askew, which can be a good thing in some films, but not in this one. Much of the dialogue is performed in a medium two-shot; if there are more than 2 characters in the scene, the camera pans back and forth slowly across the actors as they deliver their banal lines. Mr. Leung favors these extended scenes in several of his films too varying degrees of success. Here he's setting up a dynamic between the straight-laced "mainlander" trying to work with the wary, streetwise Hong Kong cops.

Meanwhile, the action scenes are quite compelling, the 'bullet ballet" sections are well-choreographed by Lung Sang. I have to admit that it takes a large dose of "suspension of belief" to wrap my head around the idea of Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai as a highly skilled assassin and sharpshooter, but having Michael Wong Man-Tak and William Duen Wai-Lin cast alongside helps to make the proceedings seem somewhat realistic, in a cartoon-like, action movie sort of way.

Copyright © 2007 John Crawford. All rights reserved.