Before We Vanish by Sean Gilman Film

Extraordinary Mission | Alan Mak & Felix Chong

April 7, 2017

Alan Mak and Felix Chong, two-thirds of the team behind the very good Infernal Affairs series and the prime movers of the mediocre-at-best Overheard trilogy, team up again for Extraordinary Mission, a routine actioner about an undercover cop working against powerful heroin traffickers. Like last year’s Operation Mekong, the film represents a patriotic valorization of the PRC’s war against drug smuggling in the Golden Triangle, with some impressive action sequences—notably, a final shootout-turned-car chase.

Mekong had some compelling, if clichéd, men-on-a-mission group dynamics; Mission follows the undercover-cop-in-too-deep template. The cop (Huang Xuan) gets forcibly addicted to morphine almost exactly halfway through Extraordinary Mission, and the film shifts focus to its main villain (Duan Yihong), and to a backstory involving another cop (Zu Feng). Despite all these actors’ charm, none of this naked plotifying and flash-backery is the least bit interesting—and a side-story involving the film’s lone woman is insultingly superficial. It’s increasingly apparent that the success of Infernal Affairs had more to do with the pulp lunacy of co-director Andrew Lau than it did Mak and Chong.

Previously published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 1.