THE LOAN SHARK - Scourge of KL
THE LOAN SHARK (drama in Cantonese set in KL)
Cast: Sam Lee, Jojo Goh, Eddie Cheung, Irene Wan, Lam Suet, Fung Hak-On and Yuka Dai
Director: C.L. Hor
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: You would have read in the newspapers about the atrocities committed by the loan sharks or 'Ah Longs' of Kuala Lumpur. These scourge of Malaysian society sometimes even make the news on TV when they go overboard with their sadistic collection methods. Now they have made it to the cineplex!
The Loan Shark, directed by C.L. Hor (who gave us The Third Generation and Kinta), is set in modern-day KL and stars local as well as some Hong Kong artistes like Sam Lee, Lam Suet, Eddie Cheung Siu Fai, Irene Wan and singer Rosanne Lui. Of course, since almost every Ah Long story involved Datuk Michael Chong, the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department head, you can expect to see him in a cameo here. Chong also served as advisor in the making of the movie.
SYNOPSIS: Sam Lee is Hor Kin Long (conveniently nicknamed Ah Long) who works for a loan shark syndicate led by a mobster called Sky God (Lam Suet, right). Ah Long is somehow forced to work to repay the debts of his mother (Rosanne Lui), a gambling addict, after his father is killed in an 'accident'. Ah Long's sister, Mun Mun (Jojo Goh) is a member of a police task force going undercover to bust a major money-lending syndicate. To infiltrate the loan shark syndicate, Mun Mun has to befriend the sadistic 'Hak Kau' (Eddie Cheung as 'Black Dog') and even behave like him.
Meanwhile, Ah Long is also involved in some kind of undercover work - and soon the two siblings must confront each other...
HITS & MISSES: I have searched the production notes and Press kit and I could not determine who wrote the script for this film. It is a shoddy piece of work, littered with plot holes and lapses in the narrative. Despite numerous flashbacks, there is no backgrounder as to how Ah Long became one of Sky God's lieutenants. Also, the impact of his mother's gambling problem is merely glossed over in dialogue.
Another confusing scene is the one involving Datuk Michael Chong's case. I doubt if many in the audience would figure out how that case is solved with Hor merely showing a loan shark with bruises, claiming that he slipped and fell. The experienced Hong Kong cast contribute a great deal in making the movie tolerable and credible. Sam Lee and Eddie Cheung are absorbing as the hero and villain respectively. Local model Jojo Goh (above, right), however, manages to hold her own as the undercover cop and she even does a few stunts herself while Irene Wan's (below, right) role as Ah Long's love interest is left undeveloped.
Most of the chase and fight scenes seem extraneous, added on just to dramatise the scene. The same goes for the repetitive bottle-throwing and head-bashing sequences, ostensibly to reflect the violent streak of Hak Kau and Mun Mun. However, the rooftop chase sequence involving Sam Lee is a seat-gripper, and the best in the movie. For a film set in multi-racial KL, there is no reference to the other races or to our local police. I understand this is to simplify matters but it does nothing for realism.
THE LOWDOWN: A promising but mediocre attempt.