Z Storm needs some sparks

The movie stars Louis Koo and Dada Chan (above). -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
The movie stars Louis Koo and Dada Chan (above). -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
The movie stars Louis Koo (above) and Dada Chan. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
The movie stars Louis Koo (above) and Dada Chan. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Review Crime thriller

Z STORM (NC16)

92 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**1/2

The story: Wong Man Bin (Gordon Lam Ka Tung) is a crooked cop in the Commercial Crime Bureau and William Luk (Louis Koo) is the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) investigator out to nail him. Wong's backer, Malcolm Wu (Michael Wong), is a ruthless lawyer plotting an audacious financial ploy to defraud the Hong Kong government.

Why is Z Storm even on the big screen? It is barely distinguishable from the various cop dramas we see regularly on television. In fact, there is a long-running series of shows specifically about the work of the ICAC dating back to the 1970s. The productions are both a tool for public education about corruption as well as a public relations exercise for the agency.

The movie, too, has that same heavy-handedness about it, with dialogue about the crucial role of the ICAC. It is no surprise, then, to learn that director David Lam had shot many of the ICAC-themed mini-series.

As befits a public announcement service, the good guys are saintly and the bad guys are rotten to the core.

Luk is a principled cop who has only the best interests of the Hong Kong people at heart. Not only that, he is a caring boss who has the respect of his subordinates. Even his private life is faultless when a personal tragedy is revealed late in the film.

In other words, he is not particularly interesting. Why did the oh-so-busy Koo, with turns in drama Aberdeen and thriller Overheard 3 this year so far, even bother taking this role?

In contrast, Wong runs the Commercial Crime Bureau like his personal fiefdom and behaves more like a gang boss than a cop. Lam so relishes being deliciously evil that he will soon have you hating his guts.

Then the attention shifts to behind-the-scenes puppet-master Wu and the hold he has over the mysterious Angel Leung (an inconsequential Dada Chan).

Throw in the perfunctory financial shenanigans and the inevitably neat resolution and Z Storm skirts too closely to being a storm of Zzz's.

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