Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Drama/ Action/ Suspense
Director: Andy Ng
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
Operation Billionaires combines the virtues of the Golden Age of Hong Kong with the newer style that emerged in the late 90s and early 00s in a way that’s pretty rare.
The film contains the last of Simon Yam’s hugely charismatic performances. These days, he either underplays or acts goofy. The other actors give performances that at least have some life, although they are not close to being as juicy as those from the late 80s and early 90s. Other than Simon Yam, I especially enjoyed the performances of Patrick Tam, Berg Ng, and May Law.
The camera moves are elegant but still energetic. Operation Billionaires may not have the crazy energy of the films from the Golden Age, but it’s still exciting.
On top of that, the technical values are much better than the typical triad financed on a shoestring specials that used to be so common. The cinematography by Ko Chiu-Lam is vibrant, the sets are up to international standards, and the music is waaaay better than in the old days.
What’s the story?
Well, it’s supposedly true, for one thing. I’m not sure how much screenwriter Lee Siu-Kei made up, but if you believe the script, gangster Cheung Chi-Ho (Simon Yam) is the kind of guy who helps little old ladies across the street and lectures kids to play in the park instead of busy intersections. His crime of choice is kidnapping, but he makes it a point to avoid violence.
Regardless of whether the real Cheung Chi-Ho was like this, Simon Yam makes you believe it.
Right away, I was worried for him, because although Cheung Chi-Ho is a civilized guy, his crew are total thugs, who would kill with all the concern of swatting a fly. I was thinking that one of his guys would screw things up for sure.
Trouble does rear it’s ugly head, but Cheung Chi-Ho is a smart guy with a smart wife (Sherming Yiu). Surely he’ll read the signs and get out of the life in time. It’s a indication of how successful the movie this is that we end up rooting for a parasite whose work consists of kidnapping people and who eventually puts a gun to the head of a six year old girl.
My biggest criticism of Operation Billionaires is basically not even valid. The ending is anti-climactic, but the ending was dictated by real life. That’s the trade off, I guess. The events of the film aren’t predictable and the characters are interesting, both advantages of a real life story, but the dramatic structure is less than satisfying, which is often the case in the real world.
Nonetheless, I warmly recommend Operation Billionaires.
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