Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate
editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author
of The Hong Kong Filmography.
Color of Pain
Shot in the head while performing his latest job, assassin Ryuya (Kenya Sawada) survives but is told that any attempt to remove the bullet will prove fatal. Subject to brief but excruciating headaches, Ryuya stumbles into the middle of a bank robbery being pulled by hoods Cat (Sam Lee Chan-sam), Dino (Terence Yin Chi-wai), and Doggie (Tony Ho Wah-chiu), and volunteers to be the trio's hostage. Once they have made their getaway, Ryuya informs them that he wants to join the gang but only for the thrills, not the money. Impressed by his ability to handle a gun, the men agree to include him on their next heist. Meanwhile, SDU sharpshooter Joe Cheung (Raymond Wong Ho-yin) is still trying to get over accidentally killing a policewoman during a hostage-taking incident. After receiving psychological counselling (which seems to have had little effect), Joe resigns from SDU and joins the regular police force. While staking out an underground boxing match, he gets his first glimpse of Ryuya, who proceeds to beat up the champion fighter and steal an expensive car belonging to the triad boss (Hugo Ng Toi-yung) running the event. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Joe befriends Ryuya but it is seems clear that their paths will likely cross again one day under far less amicable circumstances.
Kenya Sawada. Image courtesy Universe.
A HK / Japan co-production, COLOR OF PAIN features a predictably awkward
mixture of Cantonese, English, and Japanese. There is one clever bit,
however, where Ryuya and Joe talk about the past in their native tongues,
thus sharing these secrets only with the viewer, not each other. The rest
of the picture adheres to the usual tenets, with writer / co-producer
/ director Sam Leung Tak-sam channelling both John Woo and Wong Kar-wai
for visual inspiration. While the set-up is certainly derivative, the
film shows some promise before the contrivances really begin to pile up
in the final third (the sequence where Joe redeems himself in the eyes
of his partners is so contrived, one initially believes it to be nothing
more than a dream). The leads are competent but the best work here is
done by supporting players Josie Ho Chiu-yee (as Joe's by-the-book but
understanding superior), Lam Suet (as a disgraced "God of Guns"),
and Jun Kunimura (a familiar face in such HK films as HARD BOILED, TREASURE
HUNT, and THE BLUE JEAN MONSTER, where he is billed under the Cantonese
name Kwok Chuen-chun). Risa Goto and Lok Ying-kwan also appear.