Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Drama
Director: Law Chi-Leung
TRASH CINEMA ESSENTIAL MOVIE
Double Tap is a sterling example of the internationalist style that emerged from the ashes of the Golden Age of Hong Kong. Gone are the outsized performances, the riotous color schemes, the crazy headlong energy. In their place, we have calibrated performances, lightly stylized realism, real music scores, and deliberate pacing.
Generally speaking, most Hong Kong attempts at this style are a failure, but Double Tap is an exception. Pretty much everything works in this picture.
Let’s start with the script by Yeung Sin-Ling, Law Chi-Leung, Lee Hau-Shek, and Yeung Chin-Hung. The dialog is nuanced. The structure is flawless. The characters are tersely developed, just enough for the actors to breathe life into them.
Law Chi-Leung directs the non-action sequences with elegance and tact. When he collaborates with action director Phillip Kwok, we get exciting, lean, adrenalized set pieces.
Alex Fong, not always the best of actors, gets inside the head of the undemonstrative cop Inspector Chi Shun-Miu. Miu is stubborn, willful and vindictive, but is also capable of guilt, although not enough to shame him into backing off against a contest he cannot hope to win. Fong captures all of these grace notes. Ruby Wong is even better as Colleen. She has the impossible role of a woman who sticks by a psychotic, in spite of everything. She knows that her man is a rabid dog, but she can’t bear to have him put down. For me, Ruby Wong made Colleen’s predicament believable, always coloring between the lines. Best of all, and what edges Double Tap into the Essential stratosphere, is Leslie Cheung’s performance as Rick, a sharp shooter and gunsmith.
Rick is like someone with a gambling addiction working as a croupier in Vegas. Early on in the picture, a client at the shooting range gets bored with stationary targets and brings in a live chicken to shoot. Rick kicks him off the range because he doesn’t want any blood on his bullets. Later, you understand because for Rick, one drop of blood is like the first drop of alcohol for a drunk.
Rick ends up going on a memorable bender.
Leslie Cheung’s performance is deeply felt and technically superb, but what really takes it over the edge is how it’s informed and deepened by Leslie’s personal life. As Rick, Leslie looks haunted and depressed beyond belief. It’s true that the psychosis as addiction angle is in the script, but Leslie runs with it. For me, this is one of his finest performances.
I saw Double Tap when it first came out and in the intervening years, it has stuck with me. This is not a film that will leave you dancing for joy, but it’s well worth seeing.
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