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S Storm - Movie Poster
Original Title:
S Fung Bou

Hong Kong 2016

Crime, Thriller

David Lam

Louis Koo
Julian Cheung
Vic Chou
Ada Choi
Bowie Lam
Dada Chan
Janelle Sing
Lo Hoi-pang
Derek Tsang

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S Storm

S Storm - Film Screenshot 1

Story: William Luk (Louis Koo) is head of the ICAC, a commission against corruption. When he tails a jockey club trader, who is involved in a corruption case, he witnesses him being shot dead by the professional killer Song (Vic Chou). Inspector Lau Po-keung (Julian Cheung) is given the task of investigating the murder case, but Luk is not a lot of help, as he does not want to tell him why his commission targeted the trader. Lau doesn't have a good chance solving the case anyway, because his subordinates don't respect him. He also constantly gets into fights with his sister Ebby (Dada Chan). And that's despite him not knowing yet that she fell in love with the professional killer Song on another occasion. Finally, the inspector turns to Luk again and suggests they work together. Soon it is obvious that the criminal "Teacher" (Lo Hoi-pang) is behind the case. He manipulated soccer matches with the help of corrupt traders of the Jockey Club and made millions that way. Further research reveals, however, that Teacher is also just a small-time villain working for "Big Boss," the leader of a syndicate that specializes in manipulating sports betting in Europe. Luk and Lau have to realize that they can only solve the case successfully if they don't stand in each other's way anymore.

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S Storm - Film Screenshot 4

Review: It's a complete mystery to me why "Z Storm" did not just get a sequel, but now even consists of four installments. Most of the time, "S Storm", too, looks like a polished TV series, which has a little bit more money at disposal than usual, and once more you only get mind candy here. The biggest irritation, however, is that - as in the previous movie - the ICAC is presented as the greatest commission ever. The director might have toned down the propaganda aspect of the predecessor a little bit, but the events that take place are still unbelievable. The ICAC consists of a highly professional staff, but they don't consider themselves too good for playing a round of basketball in the office to increase motivation when there is a severe setback. Apart from that, the rest of the movie turns out to be a crime flick that reminds us of the nineties, even if you can clearly detect a modern touch with the glass office buildings and the rather cold colors.

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Louis Koo returns to his role and is so reserved that you still can't warm up to his character. At best, his stoicism gives him something slightly human when he answers the detective's questions over and over again with "That's confidential". The detective from the police is played by Julian Cheung ("Operation Undercover") and he mostly seems as if he is a million miles away. To make him a little more accessible, the movie provides him with a difficult relationship to his sister, who confusingly enough, is portrayed by Dada Chan, who played a completely different character in the first part. So, you have to wonder how this is supposed to work if this movie is clearly meant to be a sequel. But that's not all, during a raid in a pub, she gets all her emotional baggage off her chest while all the guests are listening. Even if her acting might be decent, the scene itself isn't.

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In addition, there are a whole lot of similarly unconvincing scenes. Moments when the tone suddenly changes completely or the focus is placed on something entirely different. This is usually achieved through the soundtrack which is just a disaster. The filmmakers simply put someone in front of a synthesizer and gave him instructions like, "At this point, you have to be able to feel the tension. And now she touches the killer during the chase - so definitely play something romantic." There is no transition between these changes and the soundtrack even makes that of cheesy TV series sound like masterpieces. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the score lowers the movie's quality by a lot. The movie's editing already lacks good transitions, but the soundtrack carries this to extremes. That's why the movie often seems like a soap opera. Which is unforgivable.

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The script also has its difficulties. The story itself offers enough new parties or twists, even though that's rather nicely phrased, because there is actually just another villain behind the prior villain and then again another one behind that one. But there is simply no chemistry between Luk and Lau, although the director has tried to get a little bit more out of the relationship. But for that the characters would have needed to be written properly. Furthermore, the dialogues are strange and some of the supporting actors, like the brain of the ICAC, act very oddly. Of course, the investigators also act anything but intelligent when it matters and they are almost always discovered during their tailing attempts. With its Westerners as villains, "S Storm" can't inspire on a performing level either, but at least we get a 90s feeling, a time when Western villains were still standard.

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Of course, in the end, everything is also nicely China-compliant. So, you shouldn't expect real Hong Kong cinema where the villain could somehow get away with it. But no one expects that anymore anyway... The action in the movie is mostly transported through dialogues and a feeling of haste which seems contrived, and the bad soundtrack is also supposed to add to that. So, no surprise there. However, you can't really say that "S Storm" is actually boring. The story is solid, the developments acceptable, even though they are not really exciting. If you look at the strange opening credits with its computer-generated soccer players, who mess up goals in all kinds of different ways, as well as the end credits, which comes pretty sudden and shows our heroic unit in suits and costumes, you already know that you are actually dealing with a revamped TV series in movie format. I have no idea, though, why there have to be two more sequels of this...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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