Deep in suspense

Updated: 2012-11-09 09:51

By Liu Wei (China Daily)

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Deep in suspense

Warm your winter with Cold War, touted to be the best Hong Kong police thriller after the Infernal Affairs series, which was remade into the Academy Award-winning The Departed by Martin Scorsese in 2006. Liu Wei reviews.

Two first-time directors have reprised the glory of a classic Hong Kong film genre, Cold War, with the support of a stellar cast.

In the cop thriller, some of Hong Kong's most acclaimed veteran actors, such as Tony Leung Ka-fai, Aaron Kwok and Andy Lau flexed their muscles as they stage a war inside Hong Kong police force. Promising young actors including Eddie Peng and Aarif Rahman play supporting roles.

The story began when a van carrying five policemen was hijacked and disappeared from the police radar. Two deputy commissioners, played by Leung and Kwok, strongly disagreed on how to deal with the crisis. Some critics have labeled the movie as the best Hong Kong cop thriller after the Infernal Affairs series, which was remade into the Academy Award-winning The Departed by Martin Scorsese in 2006.

The big shots took the chance to work with two new directors, Longman Leung and Sunny Luk, because of the solid script. Before this directorial debut, Leung was a senior production designer for more than 15 years, while Luk was a veteran assistant director on more than 100 films, including some Hollywood productions such as The Dark Knight.

Hong Kong's filmmakers are known for their speed. As veterans in the industry, the two have witnessed how some films were shot with only several pieces of paper as script, and how a script was changed arbitrarily into a mess. The duo have seen how most of these films have flopped and learned a lesson from them.

They started writing the script about five years ago, with a simple idea to make a film that reminds people of the classic Hong Kong cop movies in the 1980s and '90s, but the real inspiration came from the last US presidential election.

"Obama, McCain and Clinton competed fiercely, but with manner and wits, so we wonder what it would be like if such competition happened among top executives in the police force and that was how the story originated," says Leung.

The film involves various departments of the Hong Kong police force and depicts how the policemen work in the safest city in Asia. The directors did a lot of research before turning to their policemen friends.

"You cannot go to the police station and ask them stupid questions. You show respect by going through their websites, cases and history first, and finding things that deserve a further interview," says Leung.

But the most difficult thing in script writing is the part about Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption because staff there cannot reveal how they work. So the two went to those who had been questioned by the organization instead, to know how it works.

"The good thing is, ICAC will not blame us for inaccuracy because they cannot talk about their work anyway," Leung says.

The more they researched, the more prudent they felt they should be. At first they only wanted to tell as thrilling a story as possible, but as they learned more about the police's work, they realized that what they will be producing is more than just entertainment.

"As Hong Kong citizens, we are always proud of living in the safest city in Asia, but how the system behind the fact works? This is a serious question and we are trying to give a serious answer," says Luk.

The film differs from most Hong Kong cop thrillers with the absence of gangs or undercover, but maintains all the classic action elements of Hong Kong films, such as intense car chases, shoot-outs and explosions. Some former staff of the Hong Kong Special Duties Unit played in the film and trained the cast.

The film premiered on Nov 8.

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