Reviewed by GREG KING

Directors: Alan Mak and Felix Chong

Stars: Shaun Lau, Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Kenneth Tsang, Michelle Ye, Woo Fung, Kong Ngai, Felix Lok, Kwok Fung.

This pacy thriller about high finance, greed, corruption, betrayal, murder and revenge is a sequel of sorts to Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s 2009 thriller Overheard. Although the film features the same three stars, albeit in different roles, and explores some similar themes, the writing and directing team of Mak and Chong take the material in a different direction. In Overheard, Shaun Lau, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu played three members of an elite police squad conducting an investigation into a financial stock exchange fraud. As the main characters were all killed at the end of Overheard, in Overheard 2 the three play characters on different sides of the law.

An ultra secret powerful group of businessmen, known the Landlord Club, is manipulating the Hong Kong stock exchange for their own gain. Their front man in this corrupt enterprise is respected stockbroker Manson Law (Lau). However, as Manson goes about his business he is unaware that he is being covertly spied on by Joe (Wu), who is using sophisticated surveillance technology. Only after Manson is involved in a traffic accident and a bug is found in his car does Inspector Jack Ho (Koo), the head of Security Branch, become involved.

Ho is a righteous, moral hero who even jailed his own lawyer wife (Michelle Ye) for her role in some corrupt practices a few years earlier. Ho has to wrestle with his own personal demons as he gets caught up in the cat-and-mouse game that may bring down the entire stock market. Joe is seeking vengeance on Manson for his role in the death of his father. Wu develops some sympathy for his character, who is not the clear-cut villain we first assume, and his character is probably the most well-rounded and developed of the three main characters.

Veteran Hong Kong actor Kenneth Tsang (from My Wedding And Other Secrets, etc) plays the corrupt and powerful head of the Landlord Club, who is willing to do anything to cling to power. Veteran Hong Kong actors Woo Fung, Kong Ngai, Felix Lok and Kwok Fung round out the villainous powerful magnates of the Landlord Club.

Mak and Chong are best known for creating the Infernal Affairs trilogy (remade in Hollywood by Martin Scorsese as the Oscar winning The Departed), and their latest film has obviously been heavily influenced by the slickly commercial Hollywood style action thrillers. With editor Curran Pang, the pair brings a similar sense of kinetic energy and style to the material, particularly with the rapid editing of the exciting chase sequence set on the streets of Hong Kong. While the story here seems a little overplotted, the direction from Mak and Chong is much tighter here than in their last film, the period martial arts actioner The Lost Bladesman. Overheard 2 has been nicely lensed by cinematographer Anthony Pun (Shaolin, New Police Story, etc).

Overheard 2 takes a more serious approach to the material than its predecessor, and is a superior crime thriller.




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