Sunday, September 03, 2006

On The Edge

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

At first glance, this movie might look like an Infernal Affairs clone, with Nick Cheung declaring he wants to be a "good cop", and with the element of an undercover cop in the triads. Actually, this could have sort of served as a tangent off IA1, with keen observations to how undercover cops find it tough to assimilate back to normalcy, as the movie shared, more than 50% do not make it pass their 3rd year.

Nick Cheung plays Harry, an undercover cop who has just busted one of the largest triad bosses - Don Dark (don't ask, played by the excellent Francis Ng), but so what? One would expect glory, recognition and a fat reward to go along, but surprise, in the real world, things like that go unappreciated more often than not. In most movies, the good guy takes the bad guy down in a blaze of glory, and one would expect the glorious moments to be hailed. Here, it's the exploration of how difficult it is actually to rid yourself of vices that you picked up over the years.

Given 8 years spent in the underworld, friendships are forged, and so that sense of brotherhood and loyalty become fiercely strong. And it is indeed this brand of devotion that casts a shadow on Harry, whether he has actually rid himself of underworld links, or somehow turned tails and is acting like a double agent. But you know you're stuck in a rut when both sides decide they couldn't trust you.

Assimilating back to society isn't always easy, and not having the support from those that matter to you will always make it all the more challenging. In the 8 years you've been living a lie as a different man, how would you expect others to look at you? It actually makes you wonder if it is humanly possible at all, to forget some of the best times of your life, and the relationships you hold so dearly to. After all, no man is an island.

A major plus point is the stellar supporting heavyweights like Francis Ng and Anthony Wong, though they may seem to have superficially replayed their roles from IA2, with a bit of mellowing from Ng and an extra sense of edginess from Wong. Rain Lee as Harry's girlfriend looked a bit out of place though, with her cutie pie looks totally in opposites with her tough-nails gangster moll character. There's also a deliberate contrast between the methods of those on different sides of the law, subtly hinting that in the end, it boils down to basic human principles of conduct.

To round up, the movie may be treading on a familiar genre. The multiple flashbacks are done very nicely as we see the years that Harry spent in the underworld intertwined and contrasting with the normal life he's trying to lead. I suspect it might not last long in its release here given the barrage of films out starting from next week, so you might want to give this movie a shot.

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