The good stuff
Dante Lam finally delivers a film that mixes enjoyable, adrenaline-inducing action coupled with a more stylish and classy exterior.
Operation Red Sea
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.
That Demon Within
The Viral Factor
The Stool Pigeon
The Beast Stalker
Sparkling Red Star
Undercover Hidden Dragon
The Twins Effect
Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone
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.
Worthy but flawed
Storm Rider: Clash of the Evils
When I Look Upon the Stars
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.
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.
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.