Fire of Conscience: A Hong Kong police thrillers is not really good

Even though I’m a big fan of Hong Kong action cinema. For some reason most Hong Kong police thrillers don’t really have what it takes to make me sit up and take notice.

Regardless of my ineptitude to accurately sum things up. Fire of Conscience (Hoa Long Anis pretty much a good cop vs. the unknown rat in the vein of Infernal Affairs. We know that a detective recently trying to cope with the death of his wife is partnered up with another officer who we see at the outset of the film running after his former partner who is chasing down a group of teenage thieves that stole his phone, which seems to have some valuable information saved on it. Post-partnership the two officers try to first track down the stolen phone, for different reasons. And begin to work on a case of a murdered prostitute and two cops whose connective thread is leading to something larger. But each attempt to capture the killer and mastermind seems to uncover that he’s being tipped off by an inside informant.That sounds….right.

Leon Lai in the Fire of Conscience

Again, there’s a lot happening in this film and none of it happening very quickly. It doesn’t begin to expose any real intents or motives for quite some time and the film relies on its impressive action sequences to keep you engaged, which it does rather successfully. If this were a judgment strictly on how well-made the film is it would receive some stellar praise. There’s obvious talent involved in front of and behind the camera. But whenever the focus is less on character work, or there are no guns being fired then it becomes a rather slow-moving, uneventful drag to try and figure out what is unfolding within the plot. Again, frustrating because everything else about the film is good.

Eventually, things start to make enough sense that you at least understand who’s good and bad. Kind of understand why. But you’re still not invested enough to desire to know more. And are just awaiting the next shooting of a gun. Because that’s what it does really well.

I can’t say one way or the other whether the action film (phim hanh dong) should be avoided or sought out. If someone hands it to you and says, “hey, here’s this thing. Let’s watch it,” then don’t be rude because it isn’t insufferable. You’ll find some excellent camerawork, good performances, well-choreographed gun fights and destructive explosions. However, seeking it out may be a bit of a stretch and too much trouble than what it’s worth. It’s a little too slow-moving without enough interesting things happening during the deliberation. Treat it like you would a jolly rancher. You probably are not going to feel the desire to go out and buy yourself a large package of jolly ranchers. But if a friend offered you one you could find much less flavorful things to suck on for an hour and forty-five minutes.

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