After some thought, I decided that the best way to end the first round of Netflix A-Z is with some Hong Kong crime thrillers. Hong Kong movies are the key to what made me fall in love with movies in the first place. While a ton of you were watching all those popular classics, a good part of my youth was watching Chinese films. This one holds a pretty outstanding cast (although I didn’t know anything about it before I started it up). There’s been so many thrillers in Hong Kong movies lately and a few of them in the past few years have “storm” in their title that I’m honestly a little confused. Still, lets check out this one!
Z Storm (2014)
Director: David Lam
Cast: Louis Koo, Ka Tung Lam, Dada Chan, Michael Wong, Janelle Sing, Hoi-Pang Lo, Stephen Au, Siu-Fai Cheung, Ying Kwan Lok, Kai Chi Liu, Alfred Cheung
Hong Kong Police force govern the law. Their gatekeepers are an outsider group that oversees and stops any corruption called ICAC. When the CCB (Commerical Crime Bureau) go on an investigation in a leading accounting firm, they come up empty-handed even though it came from a reliable source. Their team leader is Officer Wong Man Bin (Ka Tung Lam). Catching wind of this from the former source, the ICAC lead by William (Louis Koo) launch an investigation despite their unwelcome presence with the CCB. Their investigation proves to be hard to follow as their leads start coming to dead ends continuously. When an unknown turn of events happen, they learn that there is a deeper story here. Wong and a famous lawyer Malcolm Wu (Michael Wong) are part of a bigger circle run by a mysterious Z and their Z hedge fund, who is going to take millions and millions of the civilians money for investments when it launches in six days may actually be a financial fraud. However, the Hong Kong officials have set a time limit. In the six days, they must find concrete evidence to support their theory in order to stop Z hedge funds launch, if not, there is nothing they can do anymore. Its a race against time? Can they do it?
I love Hong Kong films and honestly, I’m pretty forgiving for it. The reason being that Hong Kong sometimes will have their surprises that they whip out once in a while that turn out to be total gems. They always have that potential but the industry always forgets that they can do that and fall into their normal tropes. It makes the story predictable and for a thriller, offers less thrills and more plot holes. Z Storm definitely is a generic thriller. I guessed the dialogue before it was said and mostly figured out how it was going to end. Story-wise, Z Storm could be much better. Z stands for Zoro (no, that isn’t a spelling mistake) but its what Z stands for in the Z hedge fund whose mystery man is also nicknamed Zoro. Cheesy enough for you? I’m just going to come out and say it right away what I thought made this movie even worse than having a flawed plot hole that tried to put in some typical girl drama (which I thought wasn’t particularly necessary) but the fact that they ended it deliberately trying to milk a sequel. I never particularly like movies like that and on top of that, they ended with some really creepy normal day lives shots.
BUT, despite all its storytelling flaws, Z Storm’s strength is in its cast. Many of you might not know unless you are familiar with the TVB (Hong Kong TV Broadcasting Channel) drama series but in 1997, Louis Koo did a series called I Can’t Accept Corruption (Get it? ICAC?). You got it. That year, he came back strong (physically) and tanned his skin, buffed up and changed him image from the weak pale Hong Kong boy that he was before and got cast into this series. He played an agent working for ICAC and I loved that show for many reasons. One of them, being him and his acting. Watching Z Storm was like he was taking that role again but with a more mature take on it. Nostalgia might be a culprit here. And the fact that if I had a Hong Kong citizenship, my dream has always been to be in ICAC. It surprises a lot of people when I say it but hey, its a dream. It can be as huge (and stupid) as I’d like it to be 😉
He’s not the only one that deserves applause. Michael Wong is fantastic as Malcolm Wu. He’s always been a good guy. The top boss in the Hong Kong Police and always the all around good guy but this time, he turns it around and becomes a greedy and deceiving hot shot lawyer and he even swears on screen and says “b*tch”. Its always great to see actors embrace other roles and switch it up. But sometimes, you find their roles and excel at them. That person is our CCB dirty cop Wong played by Ka Tung Lam. I believe it was in Gen-X Cop back in 1999 that Ka Tung Lam took on his first bad guy role and man, did I want to punch him in the face while being completely dazzled that he could do that after playing lame, weak romance drama series characters. From then on, he went from small roles to Infernal Affairs and then look at him now, one of the strongest bad guy roles I’ve seen him in. One that made me love how bad he was but want to really hurt his character for all the horrible things he did. Its not only that. Z Storm carries a strong supporting cast with some actors that have been out of the business for a long time. Alfred Cheung is the man I have in mind. While you have some more popular secondary character roles like Hoi Pang Lo, Stephan Au, Siu-Fai Cheung and Kai Chi Liu. They are typical in many Hong Kong thrillers and action (even comedy).
Overall, Z Storm lacks in a concrete story line. It does have its thrills but not enough to make you be blown away with its plot. However, what it does lose in plot, it makes up for with an outstanding cast that breathes the needed energy and dynamic needed for each of their roles. That includes a perfectly cast leads from Louis Koo, Ka Tung Lam and Malcolm Wu all the way down to their supporting and secondary characters. Nostalgia definitely played a part in my love for this premise and while I dislike them using this film to build up a sequel, I do appreciate the motivation of the story itself even if it was executed poorly.
First round of Netflix A-Z is successfully completely!
If you do have any obscure movies, you’d like me to draft up in the second round, please suggest them!
Remember that I use Netflix Canada so I may not have the extensive selection you have in US.
Thanks so much for the great response to this series! It’ll be returning in January 2016! 🙂