Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.
Simon Lui Yu-yeung. Image courtesy Wide Sight.
In addition to having supporting roles in practically every movie released this year, Simon Lui Yu-yeung somehow found the time to write and star in this engrossing crime thriller that is far more worthwhile than its awful "what-the-hell-kind-of-movie-is-it?" poster art suggests.
Fennie Yuen Kit-ying. Image courtesy Wide Sight.
Sullen, brutal cop Pang Chi-wai (Lui) has just discovered from his private detective friend (Cheung Tat-ming) that his wife (Fennie Yuen Kit-ying) is sleeping with fellow inspector Cheung Kai-kwong (Wayne Lai Yiu-cheung). His main focus, however, is on work, particularly the latest case, which involves the murder of prostitute Wyman Li Ting-ting (Pauline Chan Po-lin). Through flashbacks, we learn that Wyman had met a nice guy and was planning on leaving the life behind, something that she had let a number of friends and associates know. The investigation leads Pang to question several of them, including Li Yuk-hing (Ada Choi Siu-fan), the owner of the motel where the murder took place, Lisa (Pinky Cheung Man-chi), a friend of Wyman and fellow kai, and powerful businessman/pimp Master Sun (Ti Lung), who has much of the police department in his pocket. Wyman's boyfriend, compulsive gambler Lok Wing-ho (Jason Chu Wing-tong), would be seem to be the murderer, particularly as he has apparently fled HK. Pang suspects otherwise, however, thanks to a surveillance camera recording revealing that Cheung had visited the girl right around the time of her death. This new clue leads to other revelations about both the killer and Suns activities.
Ada Choi Siu-fan. Image courtesy Wide Sight.
Directed with conspicuous style (but not overkill) by Billy Chung Siu-hung (THE ASSASSIN), PARAMOUNT MOTEL builds slowly and methodically like the best police procedurals. While Pang is one-note by design, there is still a reasonable amount of character development here and the cast is fine (it is nice to see Fennie Yuen in a feature again and a particular pleasure to see Ti Lung in such an atypical part). The components of the plot can be found in any number of crime thrillers and the finale would have been more satisfying if the movie had wrapped up 45 seconds earlier on a more ambiguous note, instead of the tired resolution we get instead. Regardless, the visuals and storyline are stimulating more often than not, making this one of the best HK police thrillers of the past year.
Ti Lung. Image courtesy Wide Sight.
Pinky Cheung Man-chi. Image courtesy Wide Sight.