You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   Full Alert  


Full Alert

Reviewed by: Timothy White

Director: Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
Screenplay: Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
Producer: Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Peter Yung Kam-Cheung, Chin Kar-Lok, Monica Chan Fat-Yung, Emily Kwan Bo-Wai, Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Amanda Lee Wai-Man Jack Gao (Ko Kin)
Runtime: 120 min
Date released: 1997
Rating: **** (out of four stars)

The Real Ringo Lam is Back!!!!

Full Alert poster, taken from

Finally! Ringo Lam is back making movies in his home, Hong Kong, after his flirtation with Hollywood and Jean-Claude in Maximum Risk (not a bad movie, but still not as good as Lam's Hong Kong movies). We've had to wait a while for this movie; it was delayed initially due to a strike by the Hong Kong Film and Television Lighting Association (representing lighting technicians) over salaries (that wouldn't happen in Singapore! But then, we wouldn't have Hong Kong-type movies made in Singapore, either...). And the film was logistically challenging; reportedly, it was filmed in a machine factory in Lau Fau Shan, where a 60 foot long water pipe was built, at a cost of $1 million, for the film's climactic final scene. The film as a whole was relatively expensive for a Hong Kong film, at a reported $20 million. But the film was finally completed, and those of us who love Hong Kong action films can rejoice!

Full Alert is a good old-fashioned crime caper movie. It stars Lau Ching-wan (is it just me, or does he look a little like Mr. Bean?) as Inspector Pao, a rather grizzled veteran of the police force. He tends to have a short fuse, made even shorter by a criminal named Mak (Ng Chun Yu) who, after being arrested for the murder of an architect, escapes with the help of his Taiwanese gangster buddies, with whom Mak is planning a major robbery. Mak, his buddies and his girlfriend are planning to rob the Hong Kong Jockey Club; not only does the Club have lots of money, but it is also a personal matter for Mak. He lost all his money betting on horses at the track, but more important than that is the challenge of breaking into an underground vault that is considered impenetrable. Mak, a former architect himself, plans to enter from underneath, through an abandoned drain pipe that runs underneath the Club.

What really gets under Pao's skin is Mak's taunting attitude; he knows how smart he is, and knows just how Pao plans on preventing the heist. Mak is also something of a philosopher, and strikes a chord within Pao when he talks to him about the difficulty, and haunting aftermath, of actually killing another man. While Mak is cool and calculating, Pao is emotional and prone to explosive action. The final confrontation between the two men is worthy of any number of other Hong Kong action movie finales.

Although Lam claims that he designed the movie to be much more like Hollywood action movies than like those from Hong Kong, the kind movies for which he is so well known, it is really much grittier than most American action movies; it is closer to such movies as Se7en than to Die Hard or even Maximum Risk. From its opening black and white shots (don't worry, the rest of the movie is in color), Full Alert signals its down-to-earth, dirty and edgy qualities. Instead of knocking us over with expensive special effects and bombastic background music, it creates tension and suspense, largely eschewing background music altogether. There are a few special effects, but they are not pervasive or even impressive; an explosion in an apartment, seen from the street, looks patently fake. But don't worry, the pleasures of this movie are not its special effects.

If you are a fan of Hong Kong action movies, and especially the gritty crime movies featuring gunplay and car chases instead of flying fists and kicking feet, definitely check out Full Alert. And something to think about while you're watching the movie: Ng Chun Yu, complaining about how cold the water was in the drain pipe, said that he tried to keep himself warm by pissing in the that's inventiveness!