Saturday, January 5, 2008

Kidnap AKA Chain Game (Hong Kong 2007)

A not exactly by-the-numbers thriller, Kidnap may be a lot like the cat-and-mouse movies you've all seen before, but it puts enough of it's own unique spin on things to keep the experience entertaining and engaging without feeling stale.

The film starts immediately with Inspector Ho Yuan-chun (Rene Liu), who is in charge of finding the kidnapped brother of theater actress Lam Hiu-yeung (Karena Lam), in the middle of staking out the suspect(s) involved in the kidnapping. Her partner Chi (Siu-Fai Cheung), tails the man responsible for the kidnapping to the roof, where everyone is shocked to see that Lam's brother is also there and is assisting the kidnapper in securing the ransom money. Chi attempts to talk the kidnapper into turning himself in, but things take an unexpected turn for the worst and both the kidnapper and Lam's brother fall to their deaths. Flash forward three years later, and it appears that Lam has moved on from her brother's untimely passing, and is back to teaching young theater students, aided by her husband Qian. Even Chi has remained a figure in their lives for the past three years, trying to help Lam move on with her life in any way that he can. However, it turns out that things aren't so wonderful after all, because Lam's husband is stricken by a terminal illness and his only hope for survival relies on a new treatment in Switzerland which will cost a fortune to undergo. Things aren't so great for Inspector Ho either, as she's divorced from her husband Siu-Chi (Julian Cheung), who was awarded custody of their son Ho-yin, and is finding it difficult not being able to see her child whenever she wants to. To top it off, her ex has already begun seeing another woman by the name of Shirley (Ella Koon), and it's a chance encounter with her son's best friend Jiaming, and his wealthy father Wang (Tao Guo), that will change everything.

Little did everyone realize, Lam hadn't gotten over her brother's death and has been holding a grudge over Inspector Ho and the rest of her team, blaming them all this time for his passing. Also unbeknownst to everyone was the fact that Lam had been meticulously plotting the kidnapping of Mr. Wang's son in order to use the ransom money for her husbands incredibly expensive medical treatment. Lam knew that Inspector Ho would be the one assigned to the case and she was looking forward to making Ho look incompetent. When the time finally comes for Lam to strike, things don't exactly go as planned and the outcome of her actions change the "game" completely.

From the beginning I thought to myself, "If you've seen one ransom movie, you've seen 'em all", and for the most part that's true. If only because they all share the same core premise and goal is always the same: get back the person that was taken. That being said, I'm incredibly pleased that Kidnap had, at least for me, a few new tricks up it's sleeve. A lot of the ideas are well thought out and it gives the viewer the impression of being "smart" in it's execution; which is partially true. It does suffer from a couple of loopholes, the biggest being in regards to a bloody shirt, but you know I can't give you all the details. Also, when the action is taking place, it's fairly engaging stuff, but when it's not, the movie tends to drag. The story tries to redevelop the relationship between Ho and her ex-husband and while the intentions are good, the display itself isn't all that interesting. However, these elements aside, as a whole, Kidnap is above-average stuff. The acting, from the two female leads anyway, is pretty much top-notch stuff, with Rene Liu exercising some serious acting chops. Her performance is Golden Horse worthy if you ask me, even if the movie itself might not be. The stages her character goes through show a lot of range and her performance was enjoyable to watch.

If anything, and like most films of this kind, Kidnap is an exercise in what people are willing to do for their loved ones. The person you are, seemingly becomes a person you never knew you had inside you. How would your character change when faced with such desperation and uncertainty? I'm glad we have movies like Kidnap to answer that question for us. (Lee)

Buy Kidnap on DVD or VCD from YESASIA!

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