Secret Police – An Old Story, Told Well Enough

Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Martial Arts/ Bullet Ballet/ Girls With Guns/ Drama
Director: Yiu Tin-Hung
Year: 1992

Rating: ★★★☆☆

TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE

It’s hard to feel sorry for Fai (Alex Fong). He’s having a blast playing at being a triad, treating his girlfriend like dirt, and in general behaving like an infant, much to the consternation of his father, Inspector Fung (Ku Feng) and dad’s best friend, Uncle Ping (Shum Wai). Fai’s sister, Fan (Moon Lee), has even less patience with him. She’s pretty much written him off.

But changes are in the wind. Gang warfare is brewing between Fai’s upstart organization and the most powerful one, headed by Ching (Jimmy Lung).

Will Fan be forced to arrest her own brother? Will Fai get his act together, quit the triads and marry his sweetheart?

Yeah, the story is familiar, but screenwriter Benny Tam has bothered to write an actual script this time around, paying attention to characters and story structure, which low budget Hong Kong movies often don’t seem to have time for.

As you would expect, those cagey character actors Ku Feng and Shum Wai are terrific as two cop partners close to retirement age. Alex Fong is all too believable as the infantile Fai. Moon Lee is fine most of the way through as the aggravated sister, but she can’t muster the spectrum of emotions needed for the final scene of the movie. That scene requires pain, confusion, grief, and guilt, but Moon just looks peeved, like someone cut in line in front of her at the cash register.

The big surprise is Billy Chow, who as usual plays a badass, in this case a Vietnamese assassin. Billy gets to develop a complex character and has the chops to pull it off. Unfortunately, his athletic ability gets shortchanged. He doesn’t get to do enough kung fu for my taste, sticking with an oversized gun for the most part.

For that matter, the martial arts is just good, as opposed to being exceptional. Part of the reason is a certain lack of creativity on the part of fight coordinator Yuen Bo, and the other is a tendency to be a little overenthusiastic in the undercranking department.

So, what we get at the end is an enjoyable enough triad action flick, better than usual in the drama department, but nothing to get too excited about.

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