Twenty years ago, police inspectors Tam (Patrick Tam) and Fong (Jade Leung), along with a squad of elite Hong Kong police special forces, are involved in a violent shootout with gun-runners in Macao. Fast forward to present day. Tam and Fong are returning to Macao to escort the Hong Kong police superintendent on a ceremonial appearance to the island. Both officers are haunted by the incident, suffering from PTSD, still mourning the loss of their friends and the Hong Kong government’s refusal to acknowledge the covert operation and pay restitution to the slain officer’s families. If this sounds like the plot to a hard hitting Johnnie To film or a timely drama exploring the tensions between Hong Kong and Macao, you’d be wrong on both counts. The Fatal Raid is a ridiculous, incredibly stupid action flick that plays like an early 2000s music video.
Director Jacky Lee is a supreme hack, chopping up shootouts and (very limited) kung fu fights with hideous, hyperactive fast cutting, constant slow motion, unmotivated digital color filters, a complete lack of spatial coherence, and a leering eye for ogling scantily clad young women. The film veers wildly from the dramatic to the spastically comic, and back again, almost daring the audience to try and keep track of what’s happening onscreen. An insane, nonsensical plot isn’t particularly strange or out of place in a Hong Kong flick, nor are bizarre character motivations or outlandish twists. But these have got to be tethered to some kind of anchor, like, say, a superior performance (think the smoldering charisma of a Chow Yun Fat or Tony Leung) or top notch action. We certainly forgive Jackie Chan for all sorts of goofball comedy and shameless mugging for a glimpse of his physical prowess. Regardless, The Fatal Raid doesn’t have any of this going for it, nor does it have a good script or competent direction or cinematography. It is a cheap looking piece of shit, and should be avoided as such.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival 2019.