Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Turning Point 2 Laughing Gor Returns | Laughing Gor之潛罪犯 [ Movie Review ] ★★★

Laughing Gor is quite a "cultural" phenomenon in the Hong Kong entertainment scene. This undercover cop character was a supporting role in a Hong Kong TVB television police drama E.U (Emergency Unit - which was already a third installment to The Academy series). While undercover cops characters and angle had been done numerous times in Hong Kong films and tv series, Laughing Gor managed to gain so much popularity until the character / actor got a movie and drama series spin off.

First was the movie Turning Point that was supposedly meant to chronicle the Laughing Gor's times before the events in E.U. However it wasn't a faithful prequel as there are a few events that contradict with what happened in the television series.

TVB "corrected" those problems by making another spin off television series called Lives of Omission. This new television series became a replacement series that correct the contradiction between E.U and Turning Point. After Lives of Omission, it seems that Laughing Gor is still pretty much sought after and that why there's Turning Point 2 Laughing Gor Returns ( Laughing Gor之潛罪犯 ), a movie that directly ties in with events that occurred in Lives of Omission.

Turning Point 2 starts off with Laughing Gor (Michael Tse) being sentenced to life imprisonment for killing So (Bosco Wong). But for Hong Kong's most beloved undercover cop, it's never that simple. It turned out that Laughing Gor is in a new mission to gather more information on Tai Chit (Chapman To) a former Narcotics Bureau Station Sergeant who admitted to corruption but refused to reveal the identity of his accomplice.

Soon afterwards, a trained psychologist Professor Fok (Francis Ng) is imprisoned for drug dealings. The mysterious Professor is not a simple man. As soon as his jail term starts, he demonstrated his ability in analyzing people and manipulating people's mind. Laughing Gor soon realized that the Professor is interested in Tai Chit too. To add on to his dubious character, Laughing Gor also noticed that So's wife, Paris (Kate Tse) has been visiting Professor Fok and they are in a strange loving relationship.

What is Tai Chit withholding? Who is this mysterious Professor Fok and what is he up to? Why is Paris hooking up with the Professor when she should still be in the mourning for her dead husband. It all adds up to a big confrontation with the new head of police, the drug lord of the golden triangle and a diabolical plan to change the system.

There are a couple of things that I noticed about Turning Point 2 Laughing Gor Returns. The first and foremost would be that this movie relies heavily on the events in Lives of Omission and how it affected characters like So and Paris. Even though there's flashbacks to the last few episodes of Lives of Omission, it can get rather disconnecting. If it's impossible to access the television series, at least try to read up with Wiki page on it.
The second thing would be that Turning Point 2 played out like the third installment of Infernal Affairs. In order to move on, it adds new characters in by writing new background stories that wasn't established in The Omission of Life. In a way, it's a major retcon to what's been established, particularly to Laughing Gor killing So at the end of Lives of Omission. Some might like it and some might not. Personally, I thought it was a rather intriguing retcon and it kept me entertained throughout the show.

It's also quite strange that Michael Tse's screen time as Laughing Gor has been dramatically reduced for a lead role. It's filled with unnecessary characters like Carmen (Janice Man), Laughing Gor's handler and comedic performance of MC Jin as Officer Yeung that did very little for the story or Laughing Gor's story. It doesn't help when Michael Tse's co stars, Francis Ng, Chapman To and Kara Hui are stealing the show from the lead. It's like what Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang and Francis Ng (again) did in the first Turning Point movie, out shinning Michael Tse's performance.

In summary, I am still waiting for Michael Tse to impress me with his Laughing Gor character. I am still not getting the hype and popularity of this undercover cop. But that not to say that Turning Point 2 Laughing Gor Returns isn't without it's entertainment value. The retcon was fun to watch and the supporting cast of Francis Ng, Chapman To and Kara Hui are ever reliable in their respecting roles. Turning Point 2 comes recommended and probably highly recommended if you are a fan of Lives of Omission.

Rating: ***

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