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The Constable - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Chung fung jin ging

Hong Kong 2013

Drama, Crime

Dennis S.Y. Law

Simon Yam
Niu Mengmeng
Sam Lee
Zi Yi
Lam Suet
Maggie Siu
Ken Lo
Maggie Li
Eddie Cheung

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The Constable

Story: Kuen (Simon Yam) is a vehicle commander at the police. Back in the day he was a promising crime fighter until he applied for a transfer in order to take care of his mentally handicapped son (Li Jin-Jiang). His fixed schedule allows him to be at home as often as possible, if he doesn't run into some criminals on the street that need to be taken into custody. While he is at work Cheui Yan (Ng Mengmeng) affectionately takes care of his son. Cheui Yan's friend Chow Gong-Tong (Sam Lee) on the other hand doesn't like seeing her work at the constable's. He assumes that she has an affair with him and constantly argues with his girlfriend. Moreover, he is deep in debt which is why he gets involved with the wrong people who plan a robbery and want to get him on board. At the same time Kuen isn't unhappy with his life at all, but enjoys life with his son, quite aware of the fact that his son actually shouldn't be alive anymore and that he shouldn't have any false expectations for the future.

Review: How would a serious cop drama look like if it were shot by a second-rate filmmaker? "The Constable" is the answer. The good intentions that slumber underneath the plot ultimately can't hide the story's poor execution. The movie appears to be a character-exploring drama, the slow pacing is appropriate for that genre, but to fit into this category the individuals actually should have been drawn a little bit more elaborate than just two-dimensionally. The film also doesn't benefit from a little bit of action thrown in for good measure, instead the action makes us even more confused about what "The Constable" aims to be. Only Simon Yam prevents the movie from becoming completely ridiculous, but even he can't save things.

The Constable - Film Screenshot 11

Director Dennis Law ("Fatal Contact", "Bad Blood") is known for getting good actors on board for his works, even if it is merely for the supporting roles, and eventually waste their talent in low-grade productions. In the action genre he at least had the chance of scoring some extra points with his fights in front of a gritty backdrop. Strangely enough there are some fights to be found in "The Constable" as well, particularly Simon Yam introduces himself in the beginning as a supercop in disguise, who is capable of dealing with a whole gang of thugs without breaking a sweat. Granted, the face-offs are pretty well choreographed, but they look like foreign bodies in the movie. Moreover, the action is implemented through ridiculous chance happenings that are way beyond what one could accept as cinematic plot devices.

The Constable - Film Screenshot 12

Because there isn't any plot device at all. It's more that several elements are thrown into one single pot without any link to one another. "The Constable" showcases itself, at least in its core, as a drama. Kuen takes care of his mentally handicapped son in a loving manner and for this has given up on making his career. We accompany him on his daily schedule - which can be quite tiring to watch - and see him hunt criminals, although he is in fact simply the vehicle commander guy and maybe drives one of them vehicles every now and then. Anyway, there are numerous scenes that are repeathing themselves which probably aims at drawing the everyday life of the police in an especially plausible manner. However, it simply turns out to be repititive and makes the action scenes seem even more odd. But it gets even worse.

This drama, which sometimes looks like a documentary in which Kuen has been accompanied by a camera team for a few weeks, also revolves around Kuen's son. However, there is a turnaround in the middle leading to a pretty corny scene and retrospectively you start to ask yourself what the stuff with the son was actually about. Furthermore, the movie parallely also tells the story of Cheui Yan as well as her boyfriend Chow. Of course you expect that the stories converge towards the end in some way, but apart from Chow's appearance that's not the case at all! So what purpose do the additional stories serve? It's those moments that make us aware that there is no structure or message found in "The Constable". The movie merely stands as an incoherent look at the life of a cop.

The Constable - Film Screenshot 13

What saves the movie from being absolutely ridiculous, even some of the funny scenes look rather awkward, is the appearance of certain Milkyway faces. Thanks to Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Maggie Siu, but also Sam Lee you get the feeling of watching an old school HK film. Or it's at least a reunion with some faces that you inevitably associate with better productions. After all, Simon Yam ("Nightfall", "Election") is also the reason why the movie doesn't get an even worse rating. The film actually would have deserved it. But Yam gives his role, despite poorly written characters all throughout, a certain amount of charisma that manages to keep up our interest for most part. On the other hand Dennis Law proves once more that he has still a lot to learn as a director.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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