Colour of the Truth (2003)

Rating: B+

Dir: Wong Jing + Marco Mak
Star: Anthony Wong, Raymond Wong, Jordan Chan, Gillian Chung

Opinion is sharply divided over director Wong Jing. Often derided as a hack (“annoyingly prolific and unrepentantly cheesy”), I beg to differ, for he has made many of the most purely enjoyable examples of HK cinema. God of Gamblers, City Hunter, High Risk, The Magic Crystal – it’s a long list. Hence, while many treat his name as a warning, I regard it as a viewing incentive. Here’s another example: a fine cop thriller, with an intriguing premise and some great performances. It starts with a roof-top face off, which leaves a police officer and a gangster dead, and suspicion for both deaths points to another cop, Wong Jiang (Anthony Wong). Years later, the dead officer’s son (Raymond Wong) has joined the force, and the gangster’s son (Chan) also wants retribution. But who was really the villain of the piece?

The obvious touchstone is Infernal Affairs, and while the film never quite reaches the same heights, it comes very close, despite a finale which would probably collapse if examined in detail. Its success falls largely on the broad shoulders of Anthony Wong, who continues to impress. He provides the necessary focus, tying together the various twists and turns, and when he’s on screen – which is, fortunately, a lot of the time – it’s never less than fascinating. Raymond Wong is inevitably overshadowed, but does decently, while in the supporting cast, Patrick Tse stands out as an oily “retired” criminal and Chapman To is not too grating as the inevitable comic relief. Reports say Tom Cruise’s company has bought the remake rights, and it’s easy to see why, but he’ll have his work cut out trying to match the entertainment this provides. Even Wong Jing’s critic will be hard pushed to hate this one.