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    January 18, 2012

    MOVIE REVIEW: THE VIRAL FACTOR

    THE VIRAL FACTOR (18)

    Genre: Action/Crime
    Release Date: 19 January 2012
    Running Time: 122 minutes
    Distributor: GSC Movies
    Director: Dante Lam
    Screenplay: Dante Lam, Jack Ng (screenplay), Candy Leung (story)
    Starring: Jay Chou, Nicholas Tse, Lin Peng, Andy Tien, Liu Kai-Chi

    Plot: IDC Agent Jon (Jay Chou) sustains grave injuries on a mission and decides to spend his final days with his mother. She tells him a long-held secret. To fulfill her wishes, Jon goes to Southeast Asia. He befriends medical specialist Rachel (Lin Peng). When she is forced into the schemes of a criminal organization, Jon attempts rescue and becomes the target of the organization that includes his estranged brother Yeung (Nicholas Tse)! When the organization betrays Yeung and kidnaps his daughter Sheng, the brothers join forces to rescue Rachel and Sheng. REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP

    Review: From the director of some of the most exciting Hong Kong action flicks in recent years, Dante Lam returns to this lunar New Year, presenting his latest offering. “The Viral Factor” shot exclusively on the streets and malls of Kuala Lumpur marks something that would definitely please the local action fans. Perhaps, if you are familiar with his previous award-winning works such as “Beast Stalker” and “The Stool Pigeon” could easily accepts this too. This movie is reportedly costs US$ 17 million; by far is his most expensive, most extensive and the most internationally appeal production he has ever had.


    “The Viral Factor” opens with an international task force operating in Jordan, escorting a scientist who has just created a lethal virus. In an unexpected turn, the team is ambushed, engaged in an intense street battle in the style of “Green Zone” that leaves the entire team dead; except for Jon Wang (Jay Chou) and leader Sean (Andy Tien). For Jon Wang, his life will never be the same as he has to live with a bullet lodged in his brain as he also learnt from his ailing mother that he has an older brother, Wan Yang (Nicholas Tse) who is living with his estranged father in Malaysia. Faced by a difficult situation, he is left with little when he confronted his brother, who is also a wanted criminal.

    “The Viral Factor” effectively becomes one of Dante Lam’s best works to date, easily making it comparable to any other standard big-budget Hollywood productions. The formula is relatively easy to measure – all you need are good leading actors, a thrilling yet convoluted plot and breathtaking action scenes. While the screenplay is not the biggest link in the whole movie, judging by its own it is enough to be considered a decently written one. Dante Lam himself lends a stroke of pen on the screenplay, together with Jack Ng with the story from Candy Leung. The trio is not trying to make this movie to be a smart and perfect action thriller, rather craft it to encompass a compulsive and believable series of little stories that fuels the whole setting.


    Sure, this movie makes no escape from letting a certain level of unoriginal plot with small amount of potholes around. The plot can ultimately be as cliché as plenty other action thrillers you have seen before but fortunately, the movie still projects a moving story that discusses about the rivalry and the family-bond of the estranged brothers; alternating with intense and action scenes.  The melodrama and struggle are shown effectively as the audience will definitely feel for the brothers. Jay Chou proves to be a better actor this time around, although the issue with his pale facial expression remains a concern. In contrast, Nicholas Tse serves perfectly as an anti-hero, a character he should not have problem embodies with and he nails it excellently.


    If story is not the biggest point for this movie, then the action sequences shall be it. “The Viral Factor” embodies a highly intense action gear that smartly ripped off from various elements. The Jordanian gun-fight is one of the prime example of street military battle that movies like “Battle: Los Angeles” has been missing. The car chase sequences along the streets of Kuala Lumpur are equally engaging and surreal as it involves the cause and reaction along with the extras. Then, you have great cat-and-mouse chase in some of the most exotic places in the Klang Valley. All these are magnificently combined with an excellent use of camera work – definitely less shaky than I would have expected; coupled with some breathtaking cinematographic techniques that makes me once proud of having a majestic Kuala Lumpur skyline.


    In short, “The Viral Factor” is a perfect lunar New Year getaway that deservedly dedicated to the fans of Hong Kong action flick. It may be a little cliché but the action sequences along can make you forget about those. “The Viral Factor” is simply astounding and a prime example of excellent use of adrenaline pumping machine.

    MY RATING:
    Story: 3.0
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 13.7/20.0
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