REVIEW: Fatal Move (2008)

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In what was a rumored prequel of sorts to SPL turns out to actually be its own film that could have been good, had it not been for an overdose of unnecessary CGI blood effects.

Lo Tin-Lung is a top member of a Triad organization, in which he runs alongside his wife, Soso. When they begin to make money in various ways, notably money laundering and selling pirated goods, they begin to feel threats from rival leaders. To ensure that they can continue business, Lung has either his brother Tung or top enforcer Tin-Hung deal with the rivals.

As Lung’s empire begins to grow, treachery begins to arrive. It starts when Wu, one of Lung’s men, is arrested by high ranking inspector Lin. Wu’s wife Tracy threatens to destroy the criminal empire if Lung and Soso doesn’t comply with her monetary demands. She and Wu end up the next victims of Lung’s loyal members. Furthermore, Lung learns that someone close to him is threatening to put an end to his empire. Who is it and what will be the ramifications if he finds out?

Dennis Law is what I would call a “hit-and-miss” filmmaker. He has done some pretty decent films, such as Fatal Contact and Bad Blood. Then, he made Vampire Warriors, which according to many, was a really bad film. Where does Fatal Move stand? This is more of a “middle of the ground” film for Law and his team. There are some pros to the film and definitely some cons to the film.

One of the pros are the acting performances. Sammo Hung does quite well as big boss Lung. Unlike the ruthless, cold-hearted gang boss Wong Po in SPL, Lung is seen more as both a businessman and one who cares about family. One would think he would get mad at his brother for his gambling addiction, but instead of just arguing with him, really consoles him, resulting in his brother really showing his loyalty towards him.

Simon Yam does quite well as Lung’s brother, who may seem all hard-headed but this one scene alone shows that he does have a weak side and with big brother’s advice and help, Tung feels he has to remain loyal to show his brother he is willing to do what it takes to make sure business continues to grow. Meanwhile, Wu Jing, who made a spectacular comeback with his role of Wong Po’s enforcer Jack in SPL, pretty much channels that same energy only a bit more amped up as Tin Hung, Lung’s top enforcer who doesn’t take anything for granted and loves a good fight.

The screenplay is another pro in the case here. Law, who wrote the script, brings some nice twists and turns to the script as we learn about a series of double-crosses within the organization and the ramifications of what happens when people can get greedy. In one very disturbing scene, Hong Kong startlet Pinky Cheung, ends up getting tortured in ways that can be seen in films like Oldboy and perhaps a taste of Hostel. However, as the film progresses, some shocking events happen with the only flaw in it coming in the climax, where it is never explained except for one line a scene that involves Wu and Hung.

The action was done by former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li. While the execution of techniques was pretty good, in which Wu Jing dominates the action scenes here, there is one major problem that puts a huge damper on things. For some reason, Law thought it would be a good idea to use CGI blood effects to enhance the fast and furious action of Tin-Hung’s swordwork. The problem is that one, the CGI effects looked very amateurish, and two, it was overused to an effect where it just go very tiring to watch. This resulted in making the action scenes look not too great. Even Sammo Hung’s big action scene resulted in a near atrocious level due to this very bad effect. While the torture scene and a throat slashing used practical effects, the CGI effects more or less destroyed the validity of the action scenes.

Fatal Move could have been quite a thrill-a-minute Triad action film. However, Law’s very poor decision of adding not only CGI blood effects but an overabundance of CGI effects puts a damper on things. A possible rental, but definitely not worth a purchase unless you are a completist of either Sammo Hung or Wu Jing’s films.

The film is released in the U.S. under the title Triad Wars.

WFG RATING: C

China Star Entertainment Group and One Hundred Years of Film Co. Ltd. Presents a POV Movie Production Co. Ltd. Production. Director: Dennis Law. Producers: Dennis Law and Herman Yau. Writer: Dennis Law. Cinematography: Herman Yau. Editing: Yau Chi-Wai.

Cast: Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Tien Niu, Danny Lee, Wu Jing, Eddie Cheung, Maggie Shiu, Lam Suet, Ken Low, Jacky Heung, Pinky Cheung, Hui Shiu-Hung, Jay Lau, Kou Zhanwei, Johnny Lu, Fung Hark-On.

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