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Original Title:
Cheong wong

Hong Kong 2000

Thriller, Crime, Drama

Law Chi-Leung

Leslie Cheung
Alex Fong
Ruby Wong
Monica Chan
Joe Cheung Man Kwong
Vincent Kok
Henry Fong
Alexander Chan
Raven Choi

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Double Tap

Story: Rick Pang (Leslie Cheung) teaches how to handle guns and won numerous prices in shooting contests. After an injury he retired from taking part in contests and pursues his work as a teacher while at the same time altering guns on request. One day he is challenged to a contest by the police officer Miu (Alex Fong), a long-term rival of Rick. However, there is an incident as a colleague of Miu starts to indiscriminately shoot around after having lost all his money in speculating in shares. Miu hesitates to stop his friend so Rick is bringing him down with two shots to the head. This experience shall change Rick forever, because instead of suffering from a guilty conscience he gets a feeling of bliss...
Three years later the police is called to a crime scene on which a key witness and his bodyguards have been gunned down in an extremely professional fashion and in a very short amount of time. There are only few people who have such skill with a weapon and so Rick is soon a suspect. It seems as if the former weapon gunsmith couldn't control himself anymore and is now devoting himself to his new love, killing.

Review: "Double Tap" is a nice Hong Kong thriller that offers a lot of drama and reminds us of why the movies of the former British crown colony were so special back in the day. Even though "back in the day" is refering to the year 2000 in this case the movie reminds us in an almost nostalgic way of the Hong Kong thrillers of the 90s. In the story's focus there is a psychopathic killer, who after the experience of killing someone is now addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with it. This alone wouldn't necessarily be something outstanding if it weren't for Leslie Cheung who plays his role so well that we still see the human being and his inner struggle behind the killer. Rick is a villian who nonetheless and to our own shock still has our sympathies most of the time. This goes even so far that at the beginning we are playing down his actions. After all he isn't killing the police officers in the first shootout with headshots but is only injuring them. That their injuries can still be deadly in the end, is something we are quite aware of but at that point Rick has already our goodwill and it is difficult to take it away again which makes "Double Tap" an interesting drama as well!

The film takes the time for an introduction that is half an hour which seems rather long but retrospectively makes sense. We get to know Rick who doesn't allow shooting at living chickens on his firing range and we meet Miu, a police officer who as most police officers in this movie has some serious character flaws and therefore can't really work out as your typical good guy. He is bigheaded and yet a coward deep in his heart as it turns out. When things come to the shooting contest it is pretty obvious that we have to root for Rick. Maybe it's also just because of this that it is difficult for us to switch sides after the leap in time later on. We still see Miu as everything but a sympathetic individual and it is difficult to change your opinion about him. However, in the course of the movie this becomes necessary. Nonetheless, this doesn't stop us from continueing to have sympathy for Rick in a strange way.

How can you have sympathy for someone who is given pleasure by shooting people, though? That's simple. Rick was forced to open this door to his inner demons because Miu wasn't able to shoot the gunman himself which would have been his duty as a police officer, of course. Therefore, it's partly his fault, too. Rick himself is confused, appalled but also in ecstasy because of his new feelings. In some scenes Leslie Cheung ("A Chinese Ghost Story", "Happy Together") is allowed to show his tightrope walk over the abyss of madness and his descend into it brilliantly. There are only few actors that are capable of making you see the madness right in their eyes but Cheung does exactly that. The achievements of Alex Fong ("One Nite in Mongkok"), who has to play the second fiddle in many films although he is also a good actor in a more subtle way, are also great. After all, he manages to get us on his side in the end.

Besides the drama that comes along with the well-elaborated characters "Double Tap" is also an action film, though, which is proven mainly in two outstanding shootouts. If need be the movie also doesn't refrain from depicting a certain amount of violence. However, what's always apparent is that the movie also aims for a mainstream audience with its quite big budget and the good technical realisation. During the showdown there was even some money left for a few bullet time shots. But in the end all of this wouldn't have worked out if the drama revolving around the characters weren't fleshed out so well. That is because the plot itself is rather weak. Still, as already mentioned the plot is improved by the character developement and that of some other supporting characters, as for example Rick's girlfriend, who can keep him grounded for a while or Miu's wife, who is rather cold, though.

"Double Tap" is entertaining until the very last minute. At the same time it is also disturbing to watch Rick shoot down a whole army of policemen, especially because he still has some of our sympathy. This is what makes this thriller a well-achieved look into the mindset of a monster that - and this we never have a doubt about - needs to be brought down. Nevertheless, we can still have pity on Rick. There are some doors that better never be opened because it is impossible to close them again. Leslie Cheung is the perfect man for the role and he makes the film work out so well. Drama and action are well-balanced, with its 90 minutes running time the movie is also very tightly structured and so there is only left to say that "Double Tap" is partly commercial Hong Kong cinema, that nonetheless doesn't lack the dark and nihilistic atmosphere that we learnt to love in such movies.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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