PLOT: Three police officers conduct surveillance on a listed company and become heavily embroiled in a scheme that threatens their lives.
When it comes to Hong Kong cinema, the definitive movie that stands out in my mind, is 2002's success, Infernal Affairs. The film, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak with a screenplay provided by Felix Chong, was one of the coolest things I saw at the time, even at 11. Both sides of the law planting a mole in the opposite end and rushing against time to find out who the mole in each group is. The premise was great and the execution was superb. So when I found out that most of the creative team behind the Infernal Affairs trilogy were behind this new film, I got pretty excited. I didn't hype it up for myself or anything (I mean I only learnt about it like this week) but hearing that the same guys behind Infernal Affairs did this was enough to get excited about.
The premise for Overheard is pretty simple however unlike Infernal Affairs, I felt it wasn't as greatly executed as it should've been. For a 100 minute long movie, I felt that it was a bit long.
The three leads: Daniel Wu (Max), Louis Koo (Gene) and Lau Ching Wan (Johnnie)
Character development was an integral part as we see just how imperfect, the lives of these tragic characters are. Now while I did feel empathy towards these characters and their predicaments, I felt that way too much time was spent on revealing their stories. The "heist" itself wasn't really too exciting, which is a shame as this is basically the main draw of the film. The way I interpreted the movie, it was more of a character study with a slice of commentary on the consequences of one's actions and how that affects everyone around you. I guess they had to advertise the whole laundering money thing to fill up seats in theaters.
The acting was pretty good and convincing however Daniel Wu's character, Max, was terribly underused. He basically disappeared in the second half of the film. None of the characters felt out of place or anything and it was good that one would have a sense of empathy towards the characters. Of course, anytime an actor really grabs their character and makes them speak out to the audience makes for a great performance. I didn't realise Alex Fong was in the film until I got home to Google this film. :S
Jingchu Zhang plays Mandy, who has an affair with Johnnie.
I also liked how they set up some of their camera shots. Some of the shots were set up from a surveillance perspective, which suits the whole "being watched" tone of the movie. The opening tracking shot where you saw 2 rats followed by another was also something I found to be quite clever (though I think now using rats as a symbolic metaphor has become quite cliche). Speaking of cliche, one of the final shots of the film reminded me of a scene in Shinjuku Incident(a film which no doubt will be compared to Overheard). I'm pretty sure this kinda scene itself has become a cliche amongst Asian cinema (the kind of scene where a character reminisces and has a flashback to the good times, which is basically early on in the film). Shinjuku Incident did it much better though as it had much more emotional quality to it than Overheard.
The score for this film was pretty amazing. I loved the soundtrack and it gave a great layer of emotion and added more emphasis to montages or scenes. It really brought out a lot of what was going on. I'm a sucker for score soundtracks and I'll need to get myself this film's soundtrack ASAP.
Gene in bed with his wife.
I also didn't like the shift in tone in this film. I mean one moment, you have a humourous moment and then the mood is immediately killed and someone cuts in saying something terrible happens and dramatics kick in. It's just poorly planned in my opinion. Speaking of funny, this movie does have some good moments which is a little surprising. I guess having lighter moments like that eases you into the what would culminate in the conclusion. I think my overall viewing experience was dragged down a bit though cause the crowd I saw the movie with laughed at some of the most stupid things. Like, I mean you have this really tense or dramatic scene and then they'd laugh at something someone said when it's not meant to be conveyed as funny. Also some of the subtitles were pretty off but that didn't matter too much - just worth mentioning is all.
Now while I enjoyed the movie, it's not something I'd wanna watch over and over. It's decent, maybe worth a rental but nothing more in my opinion. It had a pretty good premise but wasn't greatly executed, giving a mediocre film that was lucky enough to have it's good bits retained from the three protagonists and their tarnished lives.
Overheard is an okay film that scores 3/5.