Story: Triad boss Lung (Sammo Hung) doesn't refrain from using bloody force when it comes to bringing down
possible rivals. For this job he has martial arts pro Tin Hung (Wu Jing). But Lung actually leads his
"business" with some sense of honour. The police, headed by Inspector Liu (Danny Lee), has only little chance in getting
their hands on Lung, since Lung has quite a few moles in the police force. However, for a few weeks already things
doesn't look too bright for the triad boss, anymore. Not only does one of his rivals stick his nose into his turf over
and over again, his brother Tung (Simon Yam) also gets into problems because of his gambling habits, and within the
organisation there are some individuals who challange Lung's power and want some of his money. At first, Lung unterestimates
how dangerous the situation has already become for him until he realizes that there are more individuals that are disloyal
towards him than he thought. It becomes more and more difficult for Lung to keep control over his organisation, since
betrayal awaits him at every corner. A bloody power struggle breaks loose, which the police is also forced to
participate in when a bloody massacre takes place at a police station...
Review: Expectations were quite high for "Fatal Move", mainly because many expected this to be an unofficial
sequel to "SPL", an idea that might have had its origin in the fact, that many actors of the same cast reunite for this
film. But even without these expectations "Fatal Move" still must be labeled as "disappointing" at best. The movie,
and this is something it deserves some credit for, is uncompromising and grants us a cruelly brutal and gritty look
at the triads. However, what the film absolutely lacks are well elaborated characters that could have managed to
make the viewer swallow the worn-out and incomplete story. In fact, there are well-known themes from Hong Kong's dark world
of triads to be found in "Fatal Move", but the director didn't make the effort to give his story anything special.
The character-drawing is too hackneyed and the plot is as well. Because of this the director doesn't only throw away
the potential of the movie, but the audience also feels cheated in a way. Because one thing we really didn't expect here
is to get a trivial HK-flick. But that's exactly what we do get...
It takes a while until we have a little bit of an overview concerning the structures within the triad organisation. But when we have, it doesn't take long until we can easily point out who has the potential to double-cross Lung. And you don't have to look too long for a motif either. That is because even though honor is something of high value within the triads, we know that there is one thing that always outweighs it: money. "Election", even though not fully successful, managed to stress this out in its very own special way. "Fatal Move", however, seems to try hard to bestow a little bit more meaning to its story during some scenes, which comes especially apparent at the end, when an onscreen writing almost enforces us to get a grip of the movie's meaning, yet it fails because of contrived dialogues and characters, which we can't sympathize with at almost any point. Of course it wouldn't be fair to expect from a truely gritty HK-flick, and that's what "Fatal Move" actually strives for to be, that there are is some character the viewer can relate to. Naturally, there are only antiheroes to be found here, which could have been the true strength of the film, but for this the elaboration of the individuals should had been a lot more profound.
The script simply doesn't deliver enough material the actors can work with. Simon Yam, portraying the gambling-addicted, useless brother of Lung, can be quite convincing at times, but this certainly is mearely the effort of Simon Yam's acting expertise, since we have our problems when it comes to the other individuals. Wu Jing ("Fatal Contact") can display his great martial arts skills as the merciless enforcer with a soft spot for manga-like hair styling, but he only remains one of the movie's many villians without any real character traits. The stereotypical characters the film delivers at almost any point, are everything but excusable. For once we have the cop, who wants to transfer to another desk for the sake of his family, yet still gets into the way of the triads during the last days of his duty at the station. The audience never has a doubt that things will play out bad for the cop, since the annoying emphasis that the cop actually wants to give up his dangerous life for his family, does make it a sure thing that fate has a different future in story for him. These are problems you will encounter on several occasions. Fortunately, Sammo Hung does pull off quite a convincing show as the leader of the triads. He has some touching scenes with his wife, especially the one towards the end, which marks one of the few moments that resemble the bitter Hong Kong drama of some of the best gritty classics.
Sadly, Dennis Law's film fails when it comes to the dialogues and the editing. Some scenes seem pretty superfluous and make the film feel unnecessarily stretched. This leads to the pacing dropping at certain points, pushing the action to the background while giving room for more dramatic scenes. Drama that doesn't play out as well as intended, since almost any character is hateable. The viewer truely wishes that the bad karma of the triads eventually becomes their downfall, making them all kick the bucket. As already said, only Sammo Hung, and later on Simon Yam, even though just a little bit, can earn our sympathies. But that's not enough to justify several lengthy dialogues. It may be be true that "Fatal Move" doesn't think of itself as an action flick in the first place, but as a dark thriller revolving around kill-or-be-killed within a triad organisation, where treachery awaits you at any cornor, Law should have wrapped up his movie a bit more tightly, and more than anything else shouldn't have lost his focus that often during the story.
"Fatal Move", however, does deserve some words of praise for its merciless gruesomeness. The movie is really brutal and reminds us of the old days of HK-cinema. Wu Jing uses a sword to chop off his opponents limbs whenever he can, while some cops are killed off with several knife stabbing to the throat. This is all pretty harsh stuff and quite compelling if it weren't for the CGI-blood, that is squirting by the bucket, bestowing something fake upon these pictures, so that the violance remains bearable. One certain torture scene, however, leaves no doubt that the film really tries hard to follow the footsteps of old bloody and gritty HK-flicks. Therefore, you should be aware that a strong stomach is a must.
Only Danny Lee as Inspector Liu could have deserved our full sympathy, but for this his role is simply too marginal. At least there are some good action scenes, of which the shoot-out at the police station, as well as a car chasing scene depict the highlights. The filmmakers worked without any CGI-enhanced tricks here, which gives those scenes something welcomely sharp and harsh. As a little extra there is also a martial arts fight between Wu Jing and Sammo Hung, which may feel implemented into the movie in a bumpy way, yet is quite appealing to look at. It's just sad, that "Fatal Move" feels so disjointed and underdeveloped. The shallow characters and the badly written story make Danny Law's film a disappointing flick.