Moving Targets (2004) Movie Review

At one point in time, after the disgraceful “High Risk”, writer/ producer/ director/ seamstress Wong Jing was at the very top of my Hit List. But after the successful “Colour of the Truth”, a semi-take on “Infernal Affairs” that was nevertheless strangely good, I removed the Jingster from said list. Now that you know from whence I approach the cinematic output of one Wong Jing, let’s move on to his latest endeavor.

“Moving Targets” stars Nicholas Tse and Edison Chen as Kit and Fit, respectively, two young bucks on the Hong Kong police force. After a successful gunfight with heavily armed criminals, our awesome duo is recruited by senior cop Cheung (Simon Yam) to join his elite squad. Alas, there are problems. For you see, Cheung is Kit’s estranged father, who Kit hates with a vengeance. This makes our hero do a lot of moping and generally acting like an angry baby holding his breath whenever he’s around Cheung.

After introducing the familial dilemma for Kit and Cheung, the script wanders off to focus on Fit, as he’s blackmailed to be a mole for a gang boss with unsightly facial hair. Further complicating matters, as well as hitting home the script’s “Dads really suck” theme, Fit’s own dad, played with his usual downtrodden flair by Suet Lam, is up to his ears in debt to said gang boss. And if you’ve never seen Suet Lam get beaten up and abused in a movie — well, what am I saying? This guy always gets beaten up and abused in every movie.

I suppose in the annals of Hong Kong cinema “Moving Targets” isn’t the most awful thing to ever come out of the island colony-cum-Red China backyard. It’s certainly a fruitless film, filled with the type of obvious scripting that gets beaten out of first year film students and over-the-top melodrama that tries way too hard to pull at the heartstrings. Add to that a leading man in Nicholas Tse (“Time and Tide”), who has been infected with Ekin Cheng-itis by simply letting his hair do all the acting for him. The most challenging part of the film is to keep from cringing whenever Tse is required to act melancholy or emotional or, in general, act.

After babying his way through scenes with his estranged poppa, Tse’s Kit transfers over to Internal Affairs, where he enters into a lascivious affair with I.A.’s top female cop. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Even though the movie treats the I.A. cop as if she’s the second coming of Michelle Pfeiffer, those double chins say otherwise. And really, isn’t dating your underling while you’re both working for Internal Affairs sort of, er, obviously against the rules? Who watches the watchmen indeed!

Of note is Edison Chen, who finally gets to sink his teeth into a role that shows him to be something more than just the goofy sidekick. Chen is very good here, and the youngster even manages to lift a mostly dull and trite adventure in uninspired filmmaking whenever he’s onscreen. The movie also takes its best turn at about the hour mark, after Chen’s Fit is kicked off the force for corruption. Now a civilian, Fit still has to contend with the advances of the gang boss with the unsightly facial hair. Hopefully Chen’s performance in “Moving Targets” will lead to better things. God knows he’s certainly better than his bigger named co-star.

Also good is Gillian Chung, one half of the manufactured pop group Twins. Aside from hitting Hong Kong with the wallop of SARS two years ago, Chung and her Twins cohort has done about 5,000 movies in the last 2 years, give or take a couple of movies. Chung is effective here, probably because she’s allowed to play an adult for once. I guess the overwhelming stupidity and general dumbness of “Twins Effect”, the last movie I saw her in, blinded me to her obvious charms. And oh yes, she’s quite a lovely young woman. Strange that I didn’t notice that before.

“Moving Targets” is okay, but it’s nothing you can’t do without. Wong Jing probably spends too much money on gratuitous camera tricks and effects for no obvious narrative benefit. I’m still trying to figure out why the film was shot entirely in split-screen format for about a whole minute. And unlike Jing’s previous foray into cops and triads movies ala “Color of the Truth”, there’s no decent action in “Targets” to overcome the film’s many faults.

Nevertheless, any movie that gives Simon Yam a big part definitely deserves some bonus brownie points, even if said movie basically gives him absolutely nothing to do for the final 30 minutes.

Jing Wong (director) / Jing Wong (screenplay)
CAST: Edison Chen …. Fit
Gillian Chung …. Wing
Nicholas Tse …. Kit
Simon Yam …. Cheung
Suet Lam …. Uncle Fat Seven

Buy Moving Targets on DVD