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Original Title:
Nan er ben se

Hong Kong 2007

Action, Crime

Benny Chan

Nicholas Tse
Shawn Yue
Jaycee Chan
Wu Jing
Andy On
Candy Liu
Elanne Kwong
Sam Lee
Lisa Lu
Ken Lo
Vincent Sze
Lam Ka Wah
Wong Tak-bun
Philip Ng
Mark Cheng

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Invisible Target

Story: A group of thugs and killers lead by Tien (Wu Jing) manage to pull off a big coup. However, six months after their heist they have to find out that their partner cheated them. Tien and his team reemerge in Hong Kong and demand their share of the stolen money. But they run into cop Carson (Shawn Yue) who stops their car during a routine checkup. In the following fight Tien beats up Carson and his men pretty bad, which is why Carson is putting all his power into finding Tien. Puttin him and his gang behind bars would save his weakened reputation and honor.
Another cop very interested in getting his hands on Tien is Cop Chan Chun (Nicholas Tse), whose girlfriend has been killed during Tien's robbery six months ago. From that day on Chan hasn't been himself, unnecessarily putting his life on the line while catching gangsters, until he suddenly bumps into Tien by accident. Unfortunately, he loses him soon thereafter.
Chan and Carson meet up with role model patrolman Wai (Jaycee Chan), whose brother is said to have switched sides and is now working for Tien. Wai doesn't know where his brother is, yet, together the three can gather enough information to finally pinpoint Tien's whereabouts. Still, they have to realize that Tien isn't just unscrupulous, but is seemingly invincible, also. But that's not all as Chan, Carson and Wai have to deal with another problem. Six months ago Tien didn't do the heist on his own, but had the help of a cop...

Review: "Invisible Target" is an adrenaline-loaden, loud and explosive action flick made by Benny Chan. Chan once more proves that he has a boundless sense of how to make action look as jaw-dropping as possible, and he also doesn't do so without the help of more special effects and explosions than what we are used to see from HK-productions. He also works in some neat martial arts sequences, which are mainly carried by main villian Wu Jing, and he adds three unequal cops who pool together to bring law and order on the streets again. The only problem when it comes to action feasts like this is that under all the dazzling display of effects the story and characters mostly get a raw deal. Benny Chan ("Gen-X-Cops", "New Police Story") almost serves as a role model to illustrate this fact. Although "Invisible Target" can be quite entertaining with its breakneck pacing, the film eventually has to struggle with the flaws of a typical action flick.

The plot around an armored car heist and a bunch of merciless killers, is everyting but original. The motives of the three cops, why they want to catch Tien and his guys, are also pretty hackneyed. Chan wants to take revenge for the killing of his wife, Carson wants to reestablish his lost honor and Wai wants to find his brother, who he believes has actually become an undercover cop. Unfortunately, the script also misses to supply the three with three-dimensional characters. But for this the film seems to want to make up by drawing a thin line between good and evil. That's always welcome, yet even though the villians get a sursprisingly elaborated background, and we actually get to know more about their "motives", it's just not credible that the movie tries to justify their actions. For this Tien and his buddies are just too brual and cold-blooded. Also very inappropriate are some of the many contrived dialogues about what it means to be a cop, about revenge not being an option and so on. Wai even tries, during one hell of an improper moment, to persuade one of the killers that he still has the chance to change!

So, character drawing really isn't the movie's strength, even though the director obviously tried to bestow some depth upon the individuals. This is especially apparent when it comes to Andy On's character, who is actually one of the bad guys, but for whom we can develop some kind of sympthies. If he just wouldn't be shooting down cops cold-bloodedly all the time...
Nicholas Tse ("Dragon Tiger Gate", "The Promise") is quite convincing as a broken individual and also shows a more emotional side of his, too. Shawn Yue ("Infernal Affairs", "Diary") always seems a bit unrefined, but at least he looks cool and charismatic. Jaycee Chan ("2 Young"), son of Jackie Chan, also does a neat job as the role model cop with a remarkable and almost suicidal sense for justice. He doesn't do as much as the others, when it comes to the action scenes, but this also fits to his character and gives him something vulnerable.
Wu Jing ("Fatal Contact") surely isn't responsible for a high acting niveau in the film, but he gives a nice performance as the villian and manages to encourage us to develop antipathy towards him. It's very welcome to see him one more time in the role of a villian after his demonstration in "SPL".

Even though Benny Chan tries to imbue his film with motifs like brotherhood, honor and justice, whereas former leads to a funny homoerotic scene when the three cops rub each other's bruises with some ointment after a brawl, it is without a doubt the action that serves as the movie's sole driving force. Everything else is just an unconvincing bonus or just takes a backseat too often for us to care. Therefore, it also doesn't matter that the rather lengthy movie, with its running time of over 2 hours, has lots of plot holes and lots of coincidences that work in the hands of story evolvement. We are just lucky that we already checked our brain at the door.
Still, the action in "Invisible Target" is really worth a viewing. There are some very brutal and in-your-face style fights, which mainly feauture Wu Jing and his godlike moves. However, Shawn Yue and Nicholas Tse can fight their way through the movie also quite convincingly. Especially Nicholas Tse impresses with his willingness to seemingly put his life on the line when it comes to the stunts. Fortunately, the director doesn't make the mistake to put Nicholas Tse, despite his growing experience in martial arts, against Wu Jing as an equal opponent. In fact, Tse on his own gets absolutely torn apart by Wu.

The true strength of the film are some of the chasing scenes, especially the one over the rooftops, that really stand out and will make a lasting impression on you. Of course, there is also some wirework involved in these scenes, but the rooftop chase is very adrenaline-loaden and strongly focuses on Nicholas Tse's physical energy that he demonstrates in a striking performance. I never really liked Tse, but his apparent interest for martial arts and his willingness to put his body on the line during the many stunts which he all did himself, absolutely earned him my respect.
Apart from the very stylish captured explosions, it's also astonishing how much glass gets broken during this movie. The action is almost physically perceptible, which only proves again what I already stated: Benny Chan knows how to shoot an action movie. Sadly, the script and characters prove to be too shallow, so that we can't get emotionally involved in the events on screen, even not towards the end.
Benny Chan is the Michael Bay of Hong Kong, and I really prefer his works over Bay's. Still, the sore points of the movie are obvious. Yet, if you want to get entertained by some nice action flick this is what you've been looking for.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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