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    August 27, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: OVERHEARD 2

    OVERHEARD 2 (PG13)

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Thriller
    Release Date: 25 August 2011
    Running Time: 121 minutes
    Distributor: Ram Entertainment
    Director: Alan Mak and Felix Chong
    Screenplay: Alan Mak and Felix Chong
    Starring: Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Michelle Ye, Yi Huang, Wilfred Lau
    Plot: Law Man-Seng (Lau Ching Wan) is a reputable stock market investor who was involved in a car accident. Police officer Ho Chi Keung (Louis Koo) is assigned to the case. He finds a military surveillance device inside Law's wrecked sports car. During the investigation, Ho discovers that Law has some offshore funds from unknown sources and that an unknown person Joe (Daniel Wu), is wiretapping not only Law but other members of 'Landlord Club' - a prestigious club with top business tycoons and entrepreneurs in town.

    Review:Enjoyed the first ‘Overheard’ movie? Or probably you have not watched it before? Relax now. ‘Overheard 2’ is not a sequel to the 2009 thriller because this new movie taps in a different character roles, different settings and different story (a bit) while retaining the same key elements of wire-tapping, espionage and blackmailing. Even the three main actors are the same but are given different roles to suit now. It is probably vague but I think that ‘Overheard 2’ is one of the best Chinese-language movies of the year. Read on to know why.


    As I have said earlier, ‘Overheard 2’ is different from the first movie. The story begins when Hong Kong’s top stock broker, Law Man Sang (Lau Ching Wan) gets into a car accident. While the accident appears normal in nature, Anti-Terrorist police taskforce officer Ho Chi Keung (Louis Koo) is assigned to the case and finds a high technology military surveillance device inside Law’s wrecked car. As a matter of fact, Law’s car accident is not just a mere accident. Law has been trying to flee-off an unknown person who has been following him the whole morning and it leads Ho to investigate further on the incident.

    The investigation leads Ho to discover that Law has been wire-tapped for almost a month. An unknown professional wire-tapper known only as Joe (Daniel Wu) has been collecting information on the ‘business secrets’ between Law and the other members of the elite stock brokers known as the ‘Landlord Club’. The ‘Landlord Club’ is a powerful secretive society consisting of experienced stock brokers who have influence on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. More secrets uncover as Ho goes deeper into his investigation and what follows is a cat-and-mouse hunting game between the three individuals.


    ‘Overheard 2’ enjoys a spectacular script treatment from the experienced dynamic duo of Alan Mak and Felix Chong, who rose to fame with the ‘Infernal Affairs’ trilogy in the early 200os. The frequent collaborator has a distinguished achievement in making a solid thriller all these years. For ‘Overheard 2’, Mak and Chong recreate the similar formula portion from the first movie by retaining the wonderful elements of high tech surveillance and espionage but making some overhauls that are stunning in my opinion. With more consistent pace and creative instinct, ‘Overheard 2’ emerges and resembles more like an ‘Infernal Affairs’ movie for its stunning plot, thus avoiding itself from falling into the same poor pit of bad Hong Kong-based thrillers in the recent years. Conversely, it also shrugs off the duo’s recent poor performances particularly ‘Confessions of Pain’ and ‘The Lost Bladesman’; by drafting ‘Overheard 2’ into a taut, immersive, nail-biting and complex movie. In some of its key moment, the thriller works well and more enjoyable than the first one.

    Despite a gripping and smart plot, ‘Overheard 2’ proves to be a tough subject matter to be taken as the lesson of the day. The key element here is the financial market and it is heavily laden with jargons and system-principles that are foreign to most of the audience. The connection and the system in the dark secretive stock brokering world are lay-out in a convoluted exposition. However and fortunately, the movie does not rely on these technicalities to work. It remains very focus and cognitive at all time, a testing pad for patience and attentive to its ideas, dialogues and actions. The plot is so well executed that it concentrates on the notion of why Joe decides to take down the ‘Landlord Club’ rather than distracted into the pattern of pure ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleep’. Most of the side stories are minimally touched while it creates awareness on the personal troubles faced by each of the three main characters. It also gives you reasons to think and try to connect each scene while it never directly tells you in full details.


    On the acting department, Louis Koo, Lau Ching Wan and Daniel Wu show why they deserved to be together again. Louis Koo’s take as the police enforcer takes me by surprise with more richly in the dynamic – strict, justified but simple. His play as a suffering husband is adequately explored. Lau Ching Wan’s performance is slightly woody but shows a bull run when his moment in the scene arrives. Daniel Wu takes on the surveillance expert who has his own motive that challenges our sympathy on his relationship with his ailing mother and his personal vendetta to take on the targets. The action sequences are taken down seriously and simple, but still keep you on the edge of the seat – especially the opening tail-off pursuit and the man hunt on the street that ends with mini-explosions.

    In a nutshell, ‘Overheard 2’ benefits from the return-to-form dynamic writing duo of Alan Mak and Felix Chong whom give an intense and smart plot story that is highly cognitive and focus at all times. The presences of three major Hong Kong male stars and a gripping, well-executed action sequences and plot pace add into the credibility of ‘Overheard 2’ to easily become one of the best thriller in years since ‘Infernal Affairs’.

    THE RATING:
    Story: 4.0
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 3.5
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 15.6/20.0

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