Rating: 3 stars out of 5
This is one of those cat-and-mouse thrillers where the protagonist worms his way out of increasingly sticky situations, with his motives suspect and an antagonist – or antagonists – hot on his trail
You may have seen Hollywood examples such as the excellent Kevin Costner espionage thriller, 1987’s No Way Out, or the 2003 Denzel Washington chase piece, Out of Time – both involve elaborate plots and incredible Houdini-like escapes.
Those titles say it all: for a good thriller of this ilk to work, one needs these elements of ‘no way out’ and running ‘out of time’. So does Derek Yee’s Triple Tap, a thematic sequel to the action flick Double Tap (2000), starring the late Leslie Cheung, fit this criteria?
The answer is yes, but only to a certain extent.
The key players here are Louis Koo and Daniel Wu. The film starts off promisingly, at an amateur shooting competition where the pair, a banker named Ken (Koo) and a police investigator, Jerry (Wu), first meet as friendly adversaries.
Ken bests Jerry in a shoot-off, scoring a remarkable triple tap (three overlapping bullet holes) in the process, and at the same time revealing his prowess with a hobbyist gun.
Later, Ken stumbles upon a heist gone wrong, and is forced to shoot a handful of criminals, one of whom escapes. Hailed as a hero by the media, as his act saves the life of a policeman, he nevertheless faces criminal charges for wrongful discharge of his weapon.
Instinctively, Jerry suspects there is more to meets the eye, and continues to badger Ken, whose apparently perfect life as a successful banker with a beautiful girlfriend (Li Bingbing) starts to unravel under scrutiny. The criminal who got away (a memorable Chapman To) also starts to stalk Ken.
While Triple Tap does not have an airtight plot, or heart-pounding action scenes like those in Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience earlier this year, it contains enough intrigue and boasts some credible performances.
Yee, who frequently casts Wu (One Night in Mongkok, Protege), uses a deliberate pace and allows his stars and the story room to breathe, coaxing out an especially nice turn by actress Li, who is Ken’s domineering boss and would-be keeper.
The sweet but stiff Charlene Choi, as Ken’s virginal old flame – a kind-hearted nurse, no less – and veteran Lam Suet, as a dissolute banker, round out the main cast.
To put it in simple terms, the problem with this film is that the so-called sticky situations that Jerry gets into aren’t quite, well, sticky enough. And the moral ambiguity required to keep him, as well as Ken, interesting is somewhat lacking in depth.
Ken is painted as a victim who is purportedly good at heart, flat compared to the Costner and Washington characters in their respective thrillers. Meanwhile, there is some psychological mumbo-jumbo banter Ken and Jerry engage in, referring to the mindset of criminals, that never really convinces.
Wu and Koo are merely adequate in their roles; more skilled actors might have added another layer or two to the characterisation. Regardless, Yee’s film is a decent addition to the genre, albeit limited in range and falling short of a bull’s eye.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!"
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