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Original Title:
Bo chi tung wah

Hong Kong 2008


Benny Chan

Louis Koo
Barbie Hsu
Nick Cheung
Liu Ye
Cheung Siu-Fai
Fan Siu-Fai
Gong Beibi
Carlos Chan
Flora Chan
Ken Hung
Lok Ying Kwan
Wong Cho-lam
Vincent Kok
Wong Ho-Yin
Ankie Beilke

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Story: Grace Wong (Barbie Hsu) is a talented engineer, who gets kidnapped by ruthless gangster Fok (Liu Ye) one day. Fok seems to be looking for something that belongs to Grace's brother, but the young woman has no clue what he wants exactly. However, in the small cabin she is held captive at, there is a broken phone and with some effort she somehow gets it to work again. It's just that she can't dial a certain number directly, which is why she gets connected to shy debt collector Bob (Louis Koo) by chance. Bob doesn't believe her story at first, but nonetheless stays on the phone and eventually is provided with enough evidence to make him help out Grace. Nevertheless, Bob hasn't much time, because Fok and his men want to abduct Grace's little daughter, therefore, Bob has to find the girl before the others do. There is only little time left, and Bob always seems to be one step behind. Moreover, the police doesn't believe his story, until everything goes haywire and he is wanted because of some minor criminal acts. Cop Fai (Nick Cheung) looks into the case, eventually, but even with him as his ally Bob's fight against the mighty gangsters seems to be hopeless...

Review: Nowadays, everyone is grouching about Hollywood's remake mania - including myself - which even earned some moviemakers a few Oscars, and this though there has only been practiced official theft of ideas. Interestingly, this time it's the other way around, because Benny Chan's "Connected" is actually a remake of the Hollywood movie "Cellular" with Kim Basinger and Chris Evans. And sometimes this fact is easy to spot. The high pacing of the film, though, isn't just Hollywood-like, but also a trademark of director Benny Chan ("New Police Story", "Invisible Target"), who once again shows us how to make maybe not profound or smart movies, but at least very entertaining ones. Actually, everything works right the way it is supposed to work in such a movie. You shouldn't expect exceptional character drawings and there are also plenty of logical gaps, but it's easy to get along with that if the rest is as entertaining as in "Connected".

Of course, we should ask ourselves if it really makes sense to watch the Hong Kong remake, if most of the time Hollywood flicks are blessed with a much higher budget. The answer to that is pretty simple, "Connected" shows a lot of parallels to "Cellular", no doubt about that, some scenes are almost filmed 1:1, yet there are still some peculiarities, that you most likely will only find in a Hong Kong film. Sticking out are some car chasing scenes through the streets of Hong Kong which stand out with some impressive stunt work implemented. There are also some fights, which are brought onto screen without any particular choreography, but make an impression due to their brutal and straight forward HK-Action, even though the director could have gone a bit further with that. Moreover, you get the feeling that the director takes you on a ride through almost all of Hong Kong in respect to the numerous chasing scenes through the city. This creates dynamic and the illusion of maybe not an epic but certainly enough big action movie.

Louis Koo ("Flash Point", "Rob-B-Hood") plays a shy debt collector, who never kept his promises towards his son, and just this one time wants to do it right and be at the airport on time in order to say his farewell to him since his son is going abroad to his aunt in Australia for a long time. Of course, Grace's phone call supervenes. Sounds pretty Hollywood-like, doesn't it? Apart from that there are some other story twists and side characters, that without a doubt stick close to the original, but Louis Koo manages in his role not to simply depict a second Chris Evans, as he brings his very own unique characteristics into play, too. Koo may not create anything extraordinary, but he takes the little the script provides him with and crafts it into something more. More than anything else it's nice to finally see a "hero", who is always one step behind the villians and makes so many dumb mistakes, that we actually have the feeling to watch a real person in action.

We get a little bit disappointed from Liu Ye ("The Promise", "Blood Brothers"), however, who plays the villian simply too shallow and furthermore elevates the level of exaggerated acting in the movie to several degress. Nick Cheung ("Exiled", "On the Edge") on the other hand gets too little time on screen and even more sad he just seems to be brought into the movie because it would have been ridiculous to expect our "hero" to stand a chance against the mighty enemies he has to face himself. However, most likely you also have to blame the original script of Larry Cohen for that. Barbie Hsu ("Silk") gives a solid performance, only the implied love story between her and Bob wouldn't have been necessary.
Those who want to know what product placement really is about just have to watch a Hong Kong movie. To be more precisely "Connected", because you can't miss, no matter how hard you try, to notice which cell phone brand starting with a "M" sponsored the film. Mentioning it in the credits wouldn't have been necessary, anymore, but they did it anyway... But that's what business is all about in Hong Kong, which is why we get some close-ups of trendy cell phones every other minute.

Benny Chan knows how to bring action to the big screen. His camera movement is very dynamic and at times pretty inventive. Keeping that in mind, who cares about the script, which even though serving with a few nice twists, just remains somewhat half-baked, so that you can find logical mistakes at any corner? Additionally, the at times unintentionally funny characters, due to their overdrawness, at some point aren't that bothering anymore, because "Connected" doesn't hide the fact, that it simply wants to entertain. Actually, it would have been better for the movie if the filmmakers also would have implemented a few winks. Nevertheless, there is action and a high pacing without a break so that you will sit at the edge of your seat from the very first minute. Especially some of the stunts and action sequences, including Bob demolishing half of Hong Kong with his small car while still losing the villians out of sight, push the entertainment value to the limit. Those who mentally change down a gear and check their brains at the entrance will be able to have a lot of fun with "Connected".

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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