Film Society of Lincoln Center
(at the Francesca Beale Theater)
(at the Howard Gilman Theater)
Motorway, directed by Soi Cheang (Dog Bite Dog) and produced by his mentor Johnnie To (too many films as director and/or producer to count), will screen tomorrow and on Tuesday as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual Film Comment Selects film series. It's about Hong Kong's "Invisible Squad," a police traffic enforcement unit that is charged with arresting those who race through the city's streets at high speed whether for the thrill of it or for high-speed criminal getaways. They're "invisible" so that they're never noticed by street cars, thus enabling them to pounce on the speeding lawbreakers.
Shawn Yue plays Cheung, a cocky, relatively new member of the unit. He's teamed with policeman Lo (Anthony Wong), a veteran cop who's married and on the verge of retiring. Cheung is humbled when Sun (Gu Xiaodonog), a driver he'd arrested, turns out to have allowed the collar so that he can break his friend Huang (Li Haitao) out of police custody. Turns out that officer Lo has a back story with Sun, and Cheung must learn from his partner in order to be able to perform a tricky maneuver that will enable him to apprehend Sun and Huang when they pull their next caper.
I saw the film at a press screening and must confess that I was rather disappointed. I didn't expect a lot in the way of character depth or development in this kind of film, and there certainly isn't much of either.
I also could accept the film's ridiculous love interest: Taiwan-born actress Barbie Hsu plays a hot doctor who just happens to also be a highly accomplished pool player. She's briefly thrown in to the mix at three points to provide some indication that Cheung is a real red-blooded hetero-cop, not just a motor-head who's into driving "fast and furious."
For me the problem was that, while the cars were certainly fine to look at, the street racing wasn't all that exceptional. Racing through urban streets at high speeds has been done as well or better many times before. And the fact that the trick maneuver involved burning rubber and slightly releasing the brake so cars can slowly -- and I mean very slowly -- make a very tight 90 degree turn between walls, well, it didn't add much to the film for me.
So while I can't give it a solid recommendation, I'll just say that Motorway is an okay film. Not horrible, not bad, but not anything to rave about either. At least in my opinion. You may feel differently.
Tickets for both Motorway screenings can be ordered here.
Info about the 2013 Film Comment Selects series here.