Thursday, July 05, 2007

KIDNAP: A Taut but Uneven Thriller

KIDNAP (crime thriller in Cantonese)
Cast: Rene Liu, Karena Lam, Cheung Chilam and Cheung Siu Fai
Director: Law Chi-Leung
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Karena Lam and Cheung Siu Fai in KIDNAP

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? If your loved one is kidnapped, with instructions not to inform the police, would still go to the cops and risk the life of the victim? After all, the police are supposed to the ones most qualified to handle such cases. But are they really?
Now, what if you were a police inspector yourself and it is your own child who is kidnapped? Would you trust your colleagues to put your best interest at heart and rescue your child from the kidnappers? These are the moral and professional dilemmas covered in "Kidnap", a crime thriller scripted by Cheung Chi-Kwong, based on an original story by Mathew Tang.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? The opening sequences introduce us to Hong Kong police Inspector Ho Yuan-chun (Rene Liu) as she is working on a kidnap case involving the brother of Yang (Karena Lam). The ransom drop goes awry – and the victim is killed. Three years later, we find Yang facing another predicament: her husband is suffering from cancer and is in dire need of surgery that would cost HK$10 million.
With her knowledge of police procedures in abduction cases, Yang decides to get the money by kidnapping the seven-year-old son of tycoon Wang Sam (Tao Guo). However, her henchmen foul up the job and capture the son of Inspector Ho instead.
This sets off a heart-rending cat-and-mouse game among Yang, Inspector Ho and her dedicated assistant Chi (Cheung Siu Fai). All Yang wants is the ransom money so that she can take her hubby overseas for treatment. For Madam Ho, however, the tables have turned as she is related to the victim of a kidnap, and police procedure demands that she is taken off the case. Of course, the distraught mother and her estranged ex-husband (Cheung Chi-Lam) contrived to ignore procedures and race against time to find their son.

HIGHLIGHTS & LOWLIGHTS: There are some nice twists and turns in this taut thriller directed by Law Chi-Leung (who gave us "Double Tap" in 2000) but most parts of the movie are spoilt by gaping logic lapses and a very poor dialogue that impedes the performances of the cast.
Also, the direction appears uneven. Director Law does a great job portraying the tumultuous relationship between Ho and her ex-hubby but fails to convince us about Yang’s relationship with her ailing husband. Indeed, her friendship with Chi has more screen chemistry and sexual undercurrents, making us suspect if she is really in love with the cop.
One of the most glaring plot holes appears when we realise that the wrong boy is kidnapped but the action on the screen continues with the boy’s tycoon father still in the dark about the safety of his son. In real-life, the police would have been sued for all they are worth!
Other logic lapses involve questionable feats by the woman mastermind who seems to have the ability to be in two places at the same time.

THE LOWDOWN: Well, Hong Kong movies are not known for convincing plots but a properly written script would have made this thriller a lot more engaging. As it is, we have to suspend disbelief and overlook plot-gaps in order to enjoy the movie. In other words, they kidnap your brain so that you can get to the heart of the action!


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