Director: Patrick Leung
Stars: Eric Tsang, Karen Mok, Leo Koo, Charlie Yeung
A story of a few days in the life of three "regular" cops who work together. Rod (Koo) is the rookie, who falls in love with Fanny (Yeung), a wise-cracking hooker who is patiently waiting for her hitman "boyfriend" to come back. Lulu (Tsang) is a womanizer who is dealing with his first pangs of guilt after he learns his ex-wife is remarrying, and Shirley (Mok) is the hard-nosed leader of the group who begins to break down after her father has a stroke and goes into a coma.
Despite its title and promotion, Task Force is actually more of a character study than a police drama. The fact that the characters are cops is secondary to the fact that they are human. One telling line comes when Rod talks with Shirley's awakened father. The two are getting along well and the father remarks "I forgot you were a cop." I think that line speaks to this film's core. Unlike the stereotypical Chow Yun-Fat wannabees present in many other films, the cops in Task Force don't depend on dark sunglasses or dual handguns to make their story intriguing.
Even though these are fairly ordinary events we are watching unfold, it's still quite interesting, mostly due to the performances of the actors. Eric Tsang, in particular, is quite wonderful in his role, bringing both comic relief and pathos. All of the other actors do a good job as well; even Karen Mok (who is normally very annoying in her roles) manages to restrain herself enough to give a convincing portrayal of the heartbroken Shirley.
There is, however, one major problem with Task Force: the ending. Like most Milkyway productions, Task Force at once snubs and embraces the gangster movies of the late '80s and early 90's. One sequence, demonstrating how "silly" most of these films were when compared to reality, has Fanny relating a story of her boyfriend that borrows heavily from John Woo's Hard-Boiled and Face/Off. After the story, Rod doesn't believe her and thinks "she must have been a big fan of the John Woo movie." It's this kind of sly parody combined with a bit of reverence (director Leung worked with Woo for years, and is able to pull off all the Woo-like touches during the action sequences) that makes Task Force fun to watch.
Bearing that in mind, the ending -- complete with roaring Cantorock ballad and Woo himself making a conspicuous cameo appearance -- just seems out of place. Even though it does bring resolution to the plot, it leaves the viewer feeling somewhat empty. If the film-makers had concentrated more on the script and tightened up the film a bit (it does tend to drag in some places), this could have been a classic. As it stands, Task Force is an interesting diversion from the usual HK cop movie that will appeal most to those who are well-versed in the genre.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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