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Purple Storm (HK 1999)

Director : Teddy Chen
Producers : Jackie Chan, Thomas Cheung, Willie Chan
Action Choreography : Tung Wei
Cast : Daniel Wu, Chow Wah-kin, Josie Ho, Kam Kwok-Leung, Joan Chen, Emil Chau

During a battle with the police, terrorist Todd Chow (Daniel Wu) is knocked out cold and when he wakes up in police custody and is interrogated he finds that he has lost his memory. Unable to remember who he is or who his friends are, the police decide to take advantage of the situation by trying to convince him that he was an undercover-cop. Todd is then rescued by his terrorist friends and in his confused state must decide whether to help either the police or the terrorists.

by Martin Cleary

Although this film is a couple of years old now, this early effort from Daniel Wu is a pretty good thriller with a ‘memory loss’ concept which gives the plot plenty of twists. While the plot isn’t quite clever enough to make the film a classic, the high production values and good performances make this a worthwhile effort. Daniel Wu – in his first lead role – sadly comes across as a little wooden. Maybe this is partly intentional because for most of the film he is torn between its two real driving forces – the terrorist Soong, played with relish by Kwok Leung-Gan and the head of the counter-terrorist squad, played by Chow Wah-Kin. The relationship between ‘terrorist’ and ‘law enforcement’ is of course very relevant to todays political climate (although this was filmed before the events of September 11) and its subject matter definitely lingers in the mind.The film has some really good action scenes, although these are of the gunfight and explosion type of violence rather than martial arts, which seems a bit of a shame because it would be nice to see Daniel Wu show some of his fighting skills.

The action is still really good though, as the anti-terrorist squads plans go wrong regularly (surprise, surprise), resulting in some large scale shootouts. Chow Wah-kin is very good as the head of the terrorist squad, but its Kwok Leung-Gan who steals the film with his performance as the fatherly terrorist leader Soong. And he looks really cool with bleached hair and beard. As an added bonus, Josie Ho gets a few minutes screen time and looks sultry and sexy as the terrorist who needs to smile a bit more often. You just know that it’s not going to end nicely for her though. On the downside the script really should have been a bit tighter, as various sub-plots appear then disappear quickly, for example, Joan Chen wanders in for a bitthen disappears. Then she reappears later for very little reason.It’s not a classic, but Purple Storm seems to have a fairly large budget for a HK actioner, so it’s pretty slick with several impressively large set pieces. While not a perfect movie this is still really quite enjoyable – a good modern techno-thriller which is worth a look.

Plot : 3/5
Acting : 4/5
Entertainment : 3/5
Overall : 3/5

Notable Scenes
- Todds ‘rescue’ by the terrorists
- The groovy terrorist song
- Shootout at the harbour
- Josie Hos.

Buy this movie at  YesAsia – Purple Storm

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