Volume 92, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Wahlberg film too weak to corrupt
Photo by Kerry Kayes
By Dan Nedelcu
Is it possible? Could there be a testosterone-driven martial arts movie which actually offers the audience sustenance and quality acting? There may be, but it certainly has not been found in director James Foley's new action film, The Corruptor.
Hong Kong action superstar Chow Yun-Fat is back in his second English speaking role as Nick Chen, a New York detective working to keep the peace in Chinatown. A new turf war has broken between the Triads and the new Fukienese Dragons, making Chen's job a difficult and adventurous one.
Enter Nick's new partner Daniel Wallace, played by Mark Wahlberg. Together they decide to bring an end to the violence in Chinatown while becoming friends in the process.
It seems director James Foley (Fear) is never sure in which direction he wants this film to go. While the film's main issue is the corruption of the New York Police Department, the many subplots blur the focus and most often just bore the viewer. While Foley does attempt a few plot twists here and there, the lack of a solid script or credible acting make these twists predictable and un-surprising.
The relationship between Nick and Daniel is never believable due to the bad dialogue and lack of character development. Mark Wahlberg's acting gives anything but good vibrations. Wahlberg might have gotten acclaim for Boogie Nights, but the attention he garnered had more to do with the excitement surrounding his character's endowments. Chow Yun-Fat does a much better job in a role which called for more English dialogue than his previous film The Replacement Killers. However, the overall performance is still mediocre.
The rest of the characters in the film are so overly stereotyped, it's laughable. The character of Uncle Benny, the Godfather of the Triads, bears the same name as a character from Lethal Weapon 4 and since the same actor plays him, it leaves little room for coincidence. The rest of the gang members, each sporting a different hair colour, are made to look more like clowns instead of tough villains.
If this is an action movie, as it is being billed, where is the action? For a film which is suppose to follow the gun-play style of Hong Kong action films, it does it little justice. The car chases and shootouts are sparse and lack originality. What this film could use is the poetic violence and character depth which John Woo brings to his films.
Woo has made dozens of Hong Kong action movies with Chow Yun-Fat and the one thing they all have in common, besides excessive violence, is character development. Perhaps with a little help from a director who has mastered the mixture of action and substance, Foley could have delivered a more satisfying action film.
Until then, audiences' search for the well-rounded action flick will not end with The Corrupter.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999