REVIEW / CRIME THRILLER
EXTRAORDINARY MISSION (Rating to be advised)
121 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars
The story: Lin Kai (Huang Xuan) is an undercover cop trying to get to the heart of the heroin-smuggling business. He finds his way to the ruthless Eagle (Duan Yihong), whom Lin's handler Li Jianguo (Zu Feng) suspects is the same drug lord he had tried to bring down 10 years ago in an operation which went sour.
Tapping out messages on a mobile phone in Morse code was used to great effect in the Hong Kong crime thriller trilogy Infernal Affairs (2002-2003).
Alan Mak (co-director and co- writer) and Felix Chong (co-writer) liked the idea so much that they cribbed it for Extraordinary Mission, which Chong scripted and Mak co-directed with Anthony Pun.
But it is executed here lazily and in a throwaway manner that does not do the idea justice. At least they did not call this Infernal Affairs 4, the way director Jeffrey Lau slapped on A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (2016) to be an unworthy follow-up to a beloved series.
While it is not Infernal Affairsgood, Extraordinary Mission is mostly quite engaging.
Huang (The Legend Of Mi Yue, 2015) makes for a compelling supercop who can pull off riding a motorcycle inside a building and on rooftops with panache.
The film-makers carefully weave a web of intense relationships around his character - among Lin, Eagle, Li and Li's partner Zhang Haitao, who was assumed to have perished in that botched operation.
Will Li's sense of loyalty to Zhang lead him to put his subordinate in danger? Are Lin's sacrifices, including getting shot up with drugs, worth it? What exactly does Eagle want?
Having set all this up, the movie then works itself into a corner and has no choice but to shoot its way out. The climactic gun battle is the kind where the vastly outnumbered good guys always find their targets while the bad guys seem to be shooting in a fog while blindfolded.