- RatedPG /GenreAction, Thriller
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Singapore filmmaker Randy Ang’s first full-length movie is finally here.
Ang, who has worked as producer and art director on other Singapore films, has directed short films and made-for-TV movies.
He was spurred to do a Singapore version of the police-and-thugs genre favoured by Hong Kong filmmakers, from Gordan Chan’s earlier police special forces movies to the more recent high-octane actioners by the likes of Dante Lam and Wilson Yip.
Yet, ‘Re:solve’ measures short when compared to its Hong Kong counterparts, and may end up hitting a run closer to home – on the free-to-air TV channels.
A mash-up between an action thriller and a police investigative drama mystery, the movie follows a crimes unit inspector Chen Shaoqiang (played by Taiwanese model-turned-actor Chris Lee) as he tries to figure out a series of daring armed heists and seemingly unrelated murders.
Shaoqiang must revisit his troubled past as a member of the elite Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) unit, when a botched raid seven years earlier took the life of his mentor Wu Tianle (Sunny Pang).
The resulting cover-up later served to ruin his relationship with his girlfriend Wu Qizhen (Mico Chang from Taiwan), who is his late mentor’s sister.
In the end, Shaoqiang must race against the clock to catch the perpetrators as a heist escalates into a tense hostage situation onboard a cruise ship, where the stakes not only involve the nation's security, but also the lives of those close to him.
TOO LITTLE ACTION, TOO MUCH EXPOSITION
It is rather disappointing for action fans when a movie has been billed as action-packed in its polished marketing drive, but ends up featuring only three major action scenes – the opening stakeout, a bank heist and the final action sequences onboard a cruise ship.
Of the three, the opening is the biggest letdown as the editing and staging did little to elicit excitement – with just a group of elite forces members standing in line, shooting at thugs.
The team leader played by Sunny Pang was also given too many clunky lines to say, which felt contrived and cringe-worthy, especially when the actor is not proficient in Mandarin.
Credit must be given to character actor Richard Low, and it is truly a crime that he was not given more screen time.
It is also a pity that solid veteran actors such as Xiang Yun, Zheng Geping, Zhu Houren and Pamelyn Chee were not given much to do, with Xiang Yun being relegated to a grieving wife and Chee mostly playing a sex-pot to Zhu’s rich tycoon character.
The two leads, Lee and Chang, do provide some eye candy, such as the tracking shot of Lee running with the Marina Bay Sands backdrop, which is one of the beautiful money shots of the movie.
All the Channel 8 actors and the Taiwanese talents have no issue with the primarily Mandarin dialogue, but it might have better served the Singapore context if the movie featured more authentic sounding dialogue in English and other languages. Instead we are left with the perfunctory “Yes, sir; no, sir”, and one brief line of spontaneous Hokkien.
The final action sequences feature some hand-to-hand body combat designed by actor-choreographer Pang, as well as a series of interesting reverse steady-cam shots, which makes you feel like you are watching a ‘Counter-Strike’ video game.
If only such creative shots were planted earlier – these plus points came too far in between and it felt a little too late.
Good technical production values and talents are readily available in Singapore, but it is a pity that the biggest letdown here is the story, which tries to squeeze in too many elements, and ends up losing focus.
If only the film had a better script, this could have been a better movie and the auspicious debut that we expected to see from the prodigious filmmaker.