Director: Anthony Lau
Stars: Anthony Wong, Chin Ka Lok
A group of high-class thieves led by the mysterious "Baroness" is set to launch a major heist in Mainland China, and Anthony Wong is hot on their trail. However, when he learns that one of the gang is an undercover cop from Hong Kong, the emphasis switches from pursuit to protection as he must try to save the undercover cop from the gang.
Baroness marks a switch from most of the recent HK movies that have come out lately like Gen-X Cops. There's not a cast of pretty young actors or huge special effects. It's more like the popular crime/action movies from the mid-1990's. However, Baroness fails to capture the passion and intensity of many of those films. The story has been done many times before, and Baroness adds nothing new to the mix, throwing in every cliché in the book -- including the seemingly mandatory romantic subplot.
Since the story is nothing new, Baroness's success would have to depend largely on the actors' performances. Sadly, none of the actors do a very good job. Even Anthony Wong, who won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor two years ago and who is normally one of HK's top character actors, puts in a dismal performance. He looks like he's sleepwalking through the role and every time he talks, it sounds like he's got a mouthful of dumplings or something. I've read recent interviews with Wong that say how dismayed he is with the HK movie industry. If he really feels that way, he should just retire instead of subjecting audiences to mediocre performances like this one.
A couple of decent action sequences can't save this film from being stunningly average. Between films like A Man Called Hero and this one, no wonder why people are calling the HK action genre "dead." I wouldn't go that far, but too many more half-ass efforts like this will definitely be the proverbial nail in the coffin for Hong Kong action films.
A review of the DVD for this movie can be found here
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