I really enjoyed Dante Lam’s last film, Unbeatable. It was well-made, entertaining, and a lot of fun.
None of which applied to Viral Factor, the movie he made before Unbeatable.
So going into That Demon Within/魔警, I was… trepidacious. [sic]
I tried to ignore news about the movie, or early reviews.
I usually try to go into a movie cold; I want to know as little as possible about a movie when I see it.
That way, I think the movie gets to have the fairest viewing I can give it.
So when I watched That Demon Within/魔警, all I knew about it was that it was a story about police officers that may involve the supernatural starring Daniel Wu and Nick Cheung.
That’s why it was weird to have the screening start with a Public Service Announcement about landslip awareness that featured Nick Cheung .
And then a short trailer featuring Nick Cheung in a very small room.
There was no English subtitle, so I don’t know what movie it was.
Hell, I thought it was the start of That Demon Within/魔警!
But it wasn’t.
Daniel Wu plays a police officer with some work-related psychological issues.
He’s so caught up in them that he never notices his supervisor, played by Christie Chen, who seems to take a more than professional interest in him. He’s totally oblivious.
So he must be crazy as a bag of rats.
Nick Cheung plays The Demon King, a vicious robber who evades capture even after being wounded and arrested.
It helps that he faces the most incompetent police in the history of movies.
But that’s not my point.
That Demon Within/魔警 opens with a firefight featuring some really shocking violence.
If I say I like that kind of thing, I don’t mean I enjoy violence for its own sake.
But I do enjoy being shocked in a movie.
Intentionally. I don’t enjoy shockingly bad movies.
The violence, and the depiction of it, surprised me. And I appreciated that.
Maybe that makes me a bad person. Well, it’s not the only thing, I assure you.
It would be hard to talk about the story without spoiling the movie, so I won’t do that.
There was a lot that I liked about That Demon Within/魔警.
It looked really nice, and had some interesting visuals, both real and CGI.
I thought the acting was really good, especially Nick Cheung.
Daniel Wu did well in his role too, and I admired his acting.
My favorite, though, was Liu Kai Chi. He was hilarious as a pragmatic, even funny member of Nick Cheung’s gang.
Andy On has a small role, and so too does Soi Cheang’s voice, most likely: Andy was dubbed, and Soi Cheang usually gets that job.
If there’s any fault to be found with this movie, it lies with the script.
And the producers.
Why would anyone ever write dialogue where an old cop says he’s retiring at the beginning of the movie?
And why would the audience not know exactly what’s going to happen?
Why do scriptwriters have such a non-grasp of medical issues?
Psychotic breaks tend to last more than a few minutes.
But hey, they have a movie to finish.
This film deserves awards for Most Convenient Set of Handcuff Keys and Fastest Escape from Handcuffs.
It also deserves the nod for Most Predictable.
I saw the end of this movie coming a mile away, and I wasn’t even paying close attention.
Well, I thought I saw the end coming. I was wrong.
Instead of one epilogue, you get two!
The predictability wasn’t so bad, I guess, except that it all pointed towards one thing: Making it into the China market. Everything gets tied up into a nice neat red bow.
Hey, movies don’t pay for themselves.
Which is why there are no surprises to be found in That Demon Within/魔警.
Except maybe just how much of a letdown it is on the heels of Unbeatable.