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Turning Point 2 - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Laughing Gor - Qian Zui Fan

Hong Kong 2011

Crime, Thriller

Herman Yau

Michael Tse
Francis Ng
Chapman To
Bosco Wong
Kara Hui
Kate Tsui
Janice Man
Liu Kai Chi
Mak Cheung-Ching

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Turning Point 2

aka Laughing Gor Returns

Story: Laughing Gor (Michael Tse) ends up in prison for the murder of gangster Michael. There he tries to get close to fellow inmate Tai Chit (Chapman To), who is a former cop and now serving a sentence for corruption. However, Tai Chit seems to be mentally ill or he just pretends to be. Luckily, Laughing's new cell neighbor is the psychology professor Fok Tin Yam (Francis Ng), who is in prison because of a drug delict. He can give Laughing some tips but apparently he himself has some interest in Tai Chit as well. Laughing is in fact an undercover agent, who is working on a difficult case and when the only person who knows of his identity gets killed things look bad for him. But Fok soon is set free and tells him that he was working as an undercover agent, too. Still, Laughing doesn't know whether he can trust the professor or not since his manipulative ways of dealing with things don't bode well. Furthermore, he treats the girfriend of gangster Michael, who takes Fok for her deceased boyfriend. It seems as if Fok was playing a dangerous psychological game.

Review: Director Herman Yau is known for making low budget movies that look like big productions. That means that he already managed to surprise with his movies on several occasions. In "Turning Point 2" there is enough story to fill numerous movies with. The tricky plot demands full attention and the several twists can also be exciting to watch. However, because of its breakneck-pacing of information hammering on us the film soon becomes confusing and the characters are falling by the wayside, too. The potential of the movie is without a doubt pretty apparent, and if director Yau had taken some more time concerning his narration he actually would have been able to make full use of it. The way things are, though, the thriller remains a mixed bag.

The character Laughing is in fact from the TVB drama "E.U." and then got his own series with "Lives of Omission". The first movie actually was supposed to be a prequel, yet there were some inconsistencies and after all the drama show also had an open ending. "Turning Point 2" is said to be the conclusion to the story. Those of you I lost along the way aren't the only ones since as already stated even the makers at some point lost track of things. However, "Turning Point 2" can be watched by anyone and doesn't demand any knowledge of the series. That Francis Ng has a leading role as he did in the first part and yet plays a completely different character shouldn't bother anyone - things like this happen... As in the first movie Herman Yau is once again the director and all in all delivers a more conclusive movie than with his first attempt.

Let's get to the strengths of the thriller. With its 84 minutes the film is told in an extremely compact fashion. That means that there is something happening at every point in time. The story continuously unfolds and numerous entanglements start to become apparent, which in some places prove to be pretty smart. The only problem is that the viewer oftentimes can't really keep up with processing all the information and creating an overall picture because another surprise is already waiting around the next corner. Especially the sheer amount of twists and characters would have completely justified a movie with a longer running time and so it is rather strange that Herman Yau almost rattles off his good story. More than with anything else this becomes obvious concerning the characters who really could have thrived if they had got more time on screen.

This also leads to the fact that Laughing Gor remains without any real features and can't really captivate us. It's a different story with Francis Ng ("Exiled", "On the Edge") as the professor, though. He has an extreme subtle charisma with which he manages to keep us in the dark about whether he is one of the good or one of the bad guys. Even though the movie makes pretty clear right from the start that it wants to deal with the difference of what's right and what's legal according to law. Oftentimes you need to break the law in order to do the right thing and so the professor sees himself as a revolutionary who has to sacrifice a lot even if he doesn't want to. Ng embodies this ambivalent character with flying colors and it's him alone who manages to carry the film in the end.

What's also surprising is some smart dialogue but at some point the movie actually starts to convey its ethical and political message too forcefully. This becomes especially obvious during the last minute. The many twists are also a great deal too much, eventually. Over and over again there are certain "key moments" of the movie rehashed in flashbacks which at some point becomes rather unncessary, too. The soundtrack pushes itself into the spotlight one time too many and naturally there also have to be some plot holes concerning the complex story. The bottom line is that "Turning Point 2" has been filmed too speedily as it would have had the potential to be a lot more.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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