Sometimes things are what they seem and sometimes they aren't.

That's the central theme of this Hong Kong entry from prolific all-rounder Wong Jing, the Special Administrative Region's answer to the likes of Roger Corman.

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A relative step up from his typical lowbrow, low-budget exploitationers, Colour Of The Truth unashamedly takes Infernal Affairs for its model. If it never quite reaches the same - admittedly towering - heights, it's still worth a look for genre fans.

The story opens in 1993 as two cops and a triad face off on a Mong Kok rooftop. Three shots ring out and only one of the cops, Huang, remains alive.

An investigation exonerates him whilst acknowledging the somewhat suspicious circumstances, 7 Up being deemed to have died in the line of duty.

A decade passes and the incident is all but forgotten by everyone except 7 Up's son, Cola, who has sworn revenge and joined the police force as a means to achieve his goal.

Soon after graduation Cola finds himself with an ideal opportunity as he is selected for Huang's special squad. But the more he learns of his enemy, devoted to his job, his men and his elderly father, the more his doubts grow.

Up to about this point, Colour Of The Truth works well as a character-driven drama, dominated by a commanding performance from Anthony Wong as Huang.

Eyes hidden beneath sunglasses, every gesture and expression carefully controlled, he delivers a master class in screen acting, while Wong Jing and his co-director, ace editor Marco Mak, deploy rapid fire montages - a reconstruction of a shoot-out in Huang mind's eye; a computer-like sifting through of Identikit faces, etc - to establish someone who knows far more than he lets on.

Also noteworthy are the scenes between Huang and his English father, representing the first time the actor has addressed his own mixed heritage on screen. The relationship between Huang and his father, an ex-bomb disposal man, now left paralysed and unable to speak after a stroke, but still possessed of all his mental faculties, comes across as an idealised imagining of, or tribute to, the one Wong himself never knew.

Thereafter, however, the film starts increasingly loses its way as Wong Jing's need to make a film that's all things to all men leads to a shift in emphasis onto John Woo-lite style comic book action, coherent plotting taking a backseat to a rapidly rising body count.

The triad's son, played by Young And Dangerous's Jordan Chan in an amusing piece of self-referential casting, Wong Jing style, as he beats up some thugs modelling themselves on his cinematic alter ego, returns from abroad to avenge his father.

Meantime, Huang and his men find themselves assigned to protect a seemingly reformed gangster (when have we heard that one before?), trophy wife and jailbait daughter from a Vietnamese rival, angered over the theft of several million dollars worth of cocaine...

Also worth mentioning is the over-emphatic "tribal" score - inexplicably it won the Golden Horse award - and an amusing, if not exactly range-stretching, performance from Infernal Affairs' Chapman To, as the hapless, hopeless comic relief member of Huang's team. Gillian Chung of The Twins is, as ever, majorly cute, or majorly annoying, depending on your tastes.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2005
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A man joins the police force to avenge the death of his dad.
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Director: Wong Jing, Marco Mak

Writer: Wong Jing

Starring: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ho-Yin Wong, Jordan Chan, Ching Wan Lau, Francis Ng, Gillian Chung, Chapman To, Yin Tse, Pinky Cheung

Year: 2003

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Hong KOng


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