Is it wrong of me to wish that the cold-blooded killer played by Leslie Cheung would come up on top? That before he’s done with his killing spree, he gets the chance to take out all the cops that act like jerks, including leading man Alex Fong? In the world of “Double Tap”, where a killer kills because he needs the rush, but cops act like schoolyard bullies because they’re just assholes, things aren’t so clear-cut. And that’s what makes “Double Tap” such a great movie.
“Double Tap” is one of those really good Hong Kong movies that remind me why I adore Hong Kong cinema so much. It combines terrific and gritty action sequences with complex characters, and douses the whole thing with a heavy dose of vibrancy that only the Chinese, it seems, are capable of. Chi-Leung Law, who recently collaborated with star Leslie Cheung in the unconventional horror film “Inner Senses”, also wrote the genre-busting “Viva Erotica”, also starring Cheung. Law’s ability to convey complex emotion within the confines of seemingly generic storylines makes him truly unique in Hong Kong cinema.
In “Double Tap”, Cheung is Rick, a gunsmith who is forced to kill a rampaging gunman during a shooting tournament. Rick’s main competition in the tournament was Miu (Alex Fong), a Hong Kong cop who froze when the gunman appeared, forcing Rick to do the shooting. Three years later, Rick is no longer the man he was. He has turned into a cold-blooded assassin, hiring out his skills not for money, but for the sheer thrill of killing. Rick’s life is now devoted to the extreme art of killing, rather the target be cops, crooks, or his devoted girlfriend Colleen (Ruby Wong).
“Double Tap” is truly a rare gem. It combines great acting by leads Cheung and Fong, and even a decent turn by perennial background player Ruby Wong (“PTU”), with thrilling gunplay. The movie actually consists of only two main action sequences, and both pits Rick against the cops trying to arrest him. There are killings in-between, but the two main sequences are what stand out. When all is said and done, there is a sea of dead and dying cops, with Rick coolly walking through them like knife through butter.
And yet, despite the intense action and bloodshed, writer/director Law never allows the audience to forget that underneath the steely exterior, Rick is still just human. He’s a man unable to deny his own demons, and thus must rely on the act of killing to regain his humanity. It’s a paradox to be sure. Rick’s only remaining entanglement to “normalcy” is the unrequited love of Colleen, although later in the film we start to question Rick’s cold approach to Colleen. Does Rick, under all the blood and death, actually loves Colleen in return, or is he just using her as an excuse to do more killing?
Alex Fong (“Lifeline”) straddles the line between asshole cop and devoted purveyor of justice with uncanny ability. Unfortunately Fong’s Miu have more complexity than most of his fellow cops, many of which flash by in a sea of insignificant first names, if they’re lucky. Monica Chan (“Option Zero”) plays Fong’s wife, a doctor whose relationship with Fong is, unfortunately, less than interesting. Next to the chaos of Rick and Colleen’s relationship, Chan and Fong’s marriage seems pedestrian by comparison.
“Double Tap” is a very entertaining movie. It could be called action, because God knows there’s plenty of that; I like to think of it as intense drama. Also, it’s films like “Tap” and “Inner Senses” that convince me the world has lost a great talent in Leslie Cheung. Is there anyone else who could have pulled off the complexity of Rick, a psychotic mass murderer who nevertheless manages to make us feel sympathy for him? The guy is completely out of his mind and a clear menace to society, and yet — and yet — I wanted him to win. Is that wrong?
Chi-Leung Law (director) / Chi-Leung Law (screenplay)
CAST: Leslie Cheung …. Rick
Alex Fong …. Miu
Ruby Wong …. Colleen