Screener Review: WILD CITY (2015)

I have only seen just several Ringo Lam flicks in my time as a follower of the Hong Kong cinema. That stated, all are taken into account when encompassing the experience of Asian cinema, and with his latest return to the helm, Wild City will surely appeal to the niche after nearly seven years away from the director's chair.

The film follows actor Louis Koo in the role of T-Man Kwok, a former cop who resigns after a failed bust and becomes a bartender. Soon, chance encounter with a drunken woman named Yun, played by Tong Liya, turns from an act of good will into a chaotic fight for survival on the streets of Hong Kong with Shawn Yue in the role of T-Man's step brother, Chang, immediately swept into the calamity. With each passing moment of increasing danger, T-Man and Chang learn the ultimate truth of what's at stake, and without much of an incentive to trust the cops - much less T-Man's old squad, the three have no choice but to work together to follow the trails of blood, greed and courruption and save Yun's life, as well as their own.

From top to bottom, the story is built on philosophical narratives centered on human nature, true definitions of family and true justice, the incidental evils of money and the consequences of greed, and spiritual enlightenment. It's an adequate balance between all of these without steering away from itself and manages to deliver intense drama, poignance and charm with a lot of great performances here by the cast; The characters of Koo and Yue often come to blows over material and ideological differences throughout the film with their mother, Mona, played by actress Yuen Qiu, in between, otherwise outlining the bond that holds them together. Liya holds her own as the very magnet of trouble she becomes as per her desperation for escape from her former a two-bit scumbag lawyer played by Michael Tse while Joseph Chang and Jack Kao play Blackie and Boss King, members of Boss King's crew hired to find Yun, as well as actor Sam Lee who also plays the leader of his own gang in doing the same, although its Koo and Chang who take the lead by the end as two of the film's strongest opposing forces just before the dramatic climax.

Simon Yam stars as the leading Superintendent of T-Man's former department, and while there isn't much of him to remember by the end credits, his performance here doesn't go completely unnoticed; Despite their strained acquantance as former colleagues, Yam's is a character partly integral in learning more about T-Man and Chang and the circumstances that preset the rest of the film, thus helping the movie stay on focus as all the pieces come together. Character depth goes unneglected here on virtually all sides and it motivates you to care about what happens on all sides while Frankie Tam's script continues to stir all of the other main ingredients, peppering with a dash of espionage and a clever touch of sleight-of-hand by the third act. Flashback edits play a significant  takes off while just a smidget of its editorial ornamentation here can be a bit much at times, but the main agenda here remains fulfilled, nontheless.

And then of course there is the action, and much to the delight of Lam's fanbase, there will be plenty of it here with the prevalence of high-speed chases and intense violence with a only a few gruesome sequences that would bode easily well among the R-rated crowd. The are only a few gun battles with a couple of action sequences involving some fisticuffs, machetes and knives, and just a few interrogation scenes that get quite blunt and physical, further adding to the dark milleu on display throughout the film.

Wild City makes for a suitable return to the big screen following Triangle in 2007. Folks who are keen on classic crime flicks like City On Fire will be able to breathe this one as Lam makes his way back again, and with an impressive cast and script on hand. The flaws are minimal and nothing that will take away from the film's delivery, all in all embodying this film as is: a thrilling crime story with touching drama and action scenes that aren't afraid to destroy public property and blow things up when needed. And that's something the fans will appreciate.

Well Go USA will proudly be releasing this one in select U.S. theaters on July 31, so visit the official website and get your tickets fast!

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