Sunday, September 2, 2007

Eye in the Sky (Hong Kong 2007)

A welcome change in the typical cops-and-robbers formula, Eye in the Sky (跟踪) places it's focus on the men and women of law enforcement that watch everything from afar. The premise is intriguing and the execution is even on point, but thanks largely to an unnecessary subplot, it's not a 100% success.

Things start off interestingly enough as we are brought in on the surveillance unit doing what they do best. New recruit Bo (Kate Tsui) is following Dog Head (Simon Yam, noticeably fatter than in previous films) and his intention is to try and give her a crash course in properly tailing a lead and remembering every detail. Ironically enough, during this exercise, both agents cross paths with Shan (Tony Leung), a jewelry thief who is currently in the middle of staking out the next place to be victimized by him and his team. During the heist, one of Shan's lackeys, Ng Tung (Lam Suet), slips up by showing his face on camera which gives the cops the lead they need to find those responsible. Dog Head let's Bo on the team and gives her the charming nickname of Piggy. The SU themselves are collectively known as the Zoo, with other members having various animal names. The team are now on the case to find Ng Tung, also known as Fatty, to find out who he works for and who else is involved. After a lot of tailing, the team eventually find out that Shan is the man running the show, but during a botched attempt at apprehending him, Piggy is taken off the case and is reassigned to an assignment to find a kidnapper trying to get a ransom from the parents. Piggy has her eye on the kidnapping suspect, but has a chance run-in with Shan and decides that she's going to ignore her orders and go after Shan to stop him once and for all. Piggy has learned a lot from Dog Head during their time together, but what she doesn't realize is that Shan is just as smart as she is.

Marking the directorial debut of long-time screen-writer and collaborator of Johnnie To, Yau Nai-Hoi does an excellent job in putting the characters in believable situations with some genuinely suspenseful moments. Also, the "art" of surveillance was done remarkable well with the agents moving in convincing ninja-like fashion. However, the majority of the film, and I'm talking at least forty minutes or so, is comprised of a lot of tailing the suspect(s) with little dialogue. I understand that it's all a necessity for the story that's being told, but it doesn't always make for an exciting or entertaining story on-screen. The story revolving around the hunt for Shan was the engaging element, but the small subplot of finding this kidnapper near the end of the film seemed totally out of place and detracted from the overall story. It was as if they needed something extra to add to the surprisingly short running-time of 1 hour and 27 minutes. The acting was top-notch for the entire film, but the only performance that stood out was that of Kate Tsui as Bo/Piggy, because seasoned veterans Simon Yam and Tony Leung have proved they're capable of far greater acting feats in their previous works. I will say that Eye in the Sky is one of the few Hong Kong films that actually portray Hong Kong police officers in a capable light. They're usually always getting man-handled by the bad guys and made to look like incompetent buffoons.

Eye in the Sky, while not being the best that Milkyway Films has to offer, is still better than a majority of HK films coming out these days, and it definitely serves as an exciting start to what could be a promising career for Yau Nai-Hoi. (Lee)

Grade: B


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