films seen
28
average score
3.00*
nationality
Hong Kong - 57 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

One of Hong Kong's chief modern action directors. Dante Lam works primarily in the commercial sphere, but does so with full conviction and a strong personal signature. While he directed few true masterpieces, his films offer plenty of unadulterated fun.

The good stuff

Fire of Conscience

For Lung
2010 / 106m - Hong Kong
Thriller
Fire of Conscience poster

Dante Lam finally delivers a film that mixes enjoyable, adrenaline-inducing action coupled with a more stylish and classy exterior.

Solid pieces

Operation Red Sea

Hong Hai Hang Dong
2018 / 142m - China
Action, Thriller, War
3.5*/5.0*
Operation Red Sea poster

Chinese equivalent of Hollywood's patriotic war cinema. There's quite a lot of cheese to wade through, but the action scenes are pretty brilliant. Graphic, explosive and exciting, then again with Dante Lam in the driver seat that isn't too big of a surprise. Switch off your brain and enjoy.

Operation Mekong

Mei Gong He Xing Dong
2016 / 123m - China
Action, Adventure
3.5*/5.0*
Operation Mekong poster

That Demon Within

Mo Jing
2014 / 111m - Hong Kong
Action, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
That Demon Within poster

The Viral Factor

Jik Zin
2012 / 122m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller
3.5*/5.0*
The Viral Factor poster

The Stool Pigeon

Sin Yan
2010 / 113m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller
3.5*/5.0*
The Stool Pigeon poster

Sniper

Sun Cheung Sau
2009 / 90m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller, Crime, Adventure
3.5*/5.0*
Sniper poster

The Beast Stalker

Ching Yan
2008 / 109m - Hong Kong
Action, Thriller
3.5*/5.0*
The Beast Stalker poster

Sparkling Red Star

Shanshan De Hongxin Haizi De Tiankong
2007 / 90m - China
War, Animation
3.5*/5.0*
Sparkling Red Star poster

Undercover Hidden Dragon

Ji Jern Mo Lai
2006 / 99m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action
3.5*/5.0*
Undercover Hidden Dragon poster

Heat Team

Chung Fung Hum Jun
2004 / 99m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Heat Team poster

The Twins Effect

Chin Gei Bin
2003 / 88m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action, Horror
3.5*/5.0*
The Twins Effect poster

Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone

Kong Woo Giu Gap
2000 / 111m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone poster

Beast Cops

Yeshou Xingjing
1998 / 110m - Hong Kong
Drama, Action, Mystery, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
Beast Cops poster

The inoffensive

The Battle at Lake Changjin

Chang Jin Hu
2021 / 176m - China
Action, War
3.0*/5.0*
The Battle at Lake Changjin poster

So, China found out that people love a good war flick. In recent years, there's been a notable rise of blockbuster war films, with big-name directors tied to them. The Battle of Lake Changing did even better and tied no less than three of the biggest directors in China to its production, just to manage its scope.

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The plot isn't all that interesting, except that for Westerners it might be somewhat novel to see the US army as the bad guys, whereas The Chinese soldiers are the heroes. You basically get three battles round and about Lake Changing, highlighting the bravery, perseverance and comradery of the Chinese army.

You can't escape propaganda in a film like this, and if that triggers you, it's probably best to ignore this film altogether. If on the other hand you just see good guys smashing up bad guys, the film certainly delivers in spades. The scenes with the tank in the little village are superb, the rest of the action is on point too, but three hours is a little much. It's not a great film, certainly not up to the level of the names attached, but I had fun with it.

Unbeatable

Ji Zhan
2013 / 122m - China
Action, Sport
3.0*/5.0*
Unbeatable poster

Commissioned anthology that was made to lift the spirit of Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic. The who's who of Hong Kong cinema participated, but the result is a little uneven. Not too surprising considering the exterior motives behind this anthology, and there are a couple of worthwhile entries, but overall it's probably best to lower your expectations when watching this.

Naked Ambition

Ho Ching
2003 / 121m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Naked Ambition poster

Worthy but flawed

Water Gate Bridge

Chang Jin Hu Zhi Shui Men Qiao
2022 / 153m - China
Action, War
2.5*/5.0*
Water Gate Bridge poster

More Chinese war propaganda. The Battle at Lake Changjin must've been quite the success, or this endeavor was simply so huge that they figured a second film would be necessary to recoup the effort. If you're looking for 150 minutes of action and sentimentality, Hark, Lam and Chen have you covered.

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The plot is basic, we get another battlefield where the Chinese soldiers are allowed to show their bravery, their commitment and their selflessness. This time they're monitoring a bridge that is right on the escape route of the American troops. A strategic location that will form the center of another heated battle.

The action is pretty spectacular, but it does get quite messy, and the film doesn't really let up. And when it does stop, it's only to make room for some sentimental drama. It's a shame, as these directors are capable of making way better films. Let's just hope they're not turning this into a trilogy.

The Rescue

Jin Ji Jiu Yuan
2020 / 139m - China
Action
2.5*/5.0*
The Rescue poster

A mediocre disaster flick by Dante Lam. The kind that makes you question the quality of his older work. Is it that Lam is getting a bit too old to make dashing blockbusters? Or is it the move to China that's getting in his way? Or maybe it was never Lam in the first place, but the well-oiled machine that used to be Hong Kong cinema. I can't say for certain, but the fact is that Lam has made much better films than what he delivers here.

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The Rescue serves four major rescue operations, with a bunch of crappy melodrama in between. The operations are unrelated to each other, so there's really not much of a build-up, except that each one is more dangerous (and claims more victims) than the next. Still, it's almost like watching a 4-part mini-series with a bit of unnecessary drama to glue everything together.

Eddie Peng is decent and Zhilei Xin is a good find, the rest of the cast is not up to par. The overreliance on CG is distracting, the quality of the visuals not what you'd expect from a major blockbuster, resulting in rescue operations that are so obviously green screen that they come off way less spectacular than they should've been. It's loud and flashy enough to be mildly entertaining, but that doesn't save it from being one of Lam's worst films to date.

Storm Rider: Clash of the Evils

Feng Yu Jue
2008 / 98m - China
Action, Adventure, Animation
2.5*/5.0*
Storm Rider: Clash of the Evils poster

Hit Team

Chung Chong Ging Chaat
2001 / 94m - Hong Kong
Action
2.5*/5.0*
Hit Team poster

Runaway

Chow Tau Yau Liu
2001 / 99m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Action
2.5*/5.0*
Runaway poster

When I Look Upon the Stars

Tian Xuan Di Lian
1999 / 102m - Hong Kong
Romance
2.5*/5.0*
When I Look Upon the Stars poster

Dante Lam is a fine action director, romance and drama on the other hand aren't really his thing. Lam made When I Look Upon the Stars when he just started out, at a time when he was still searching for a niche he felt at home in. While he does his best to make things work, the romance never takes off.

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Chan and Ku aren't the best actors for the job, Qi and Lee are better equipped to handle this type of work, but have trouble connecting with their partners. The cheesy soundtrack and rather pedestrian cinematography don't really add to the atmosphere either. It's all just a little too functional to be truly effective.

That said, it's not the worst film either. The characters are quite interesting and there are a few scenes where things move in the right direction, it's just that it never materializes into something bigger. This is passable filler, just don't go in expecting a typical Lam action flick, as you're bound to end up sorely disappointed.

Option Zero

G4 Te Gong
1997 / 109m - Hong Kong
Action
2.5*/5.0*
Option Zero poster

Dante Lam's first film is no masterpiece, but it's a decent genre exercise with a solid balance between drama and action. It's a pretty standard film with few stand-out moments, but the action sequences should be enough to entertain the average action fan. It's pretty decent filler, but little more than that.

Dubious filler

Love on the Rocks

Luen Ching Go Gup
2004 / 103m - Hong Kong
Comedy, Romance
2.0*/5.0*
Love on the Rocks poster

Plain forgettable

To the Fore

Po Feng
2015 / 125m - Hong Kong
Drama, Sport
1.5*/5.0*
To the Fore poster

Tiramisu

Luen Oi Hang Sing
2002 / 111m - Hong Kong
Romance, Fantasy
1.5*/5.0*
Tiramisu poster