Colour of the Loyalty Review
After the Infernal Affairs Trilogy, Asian cinema set a new standard for cop thriller, becoming a serious competitor to Western equivalents. The script, the style, the story and the acting are all superb and it is difficult to see how the upcoming Hollywood remake is going to live up to the original. In the meantime, Asia is still coming up with cop thrillers in the same vein, using the mould forged by Infernal Affairs to produce slight variations in theme. They may not all be as good, but films like Divergence have still offered something new in the genre. Now we get Colour of the Loyalty.
Boss Dragon has accumulated a huge wealth of funds from his Mafia enterprise, but when a cop tips him off that he has a spy in his midst, his whole empire gets turned up and down. Not knowing who to trust, he must test the loyalty of all of those close to him whilst also contending with the rival gangs that want to take this opportunity to destroy him. Despite having a step-son in his close circle of lieutenants, he chooses to bring in a secret group that he had commissioned to be trained to protect him - if ever the need to arise. At the centre of this team is the loyal Fat, a young man who fights with the same passion that Dragon once saw in his own eyes. Despite this will they be able to protect him from both the turf war and the inner conflict?
Well, this was an excellent thriller. Right from the outset, the way it was shot, the way the story panned out, the action, the acting, it is all spot-on. Offering up a slightly different perspective than its predecessors - focussing mainly on the viewpoint of the criminals - it tells a story of loyalty and betrayal and features some superb performances. The great Eric Tsang heads up the cast, playing a similar but darker variation to his Infernal Affairs character. Still, because the movie is taken from the mob's point of view, you can't help but root for him as he evades assassination attempts and struggles with control of the gangs. He is always enough reason to watch any Hong Kong movie, particularly thrillers - and this is certainly no exception. He is ably backed up by another ex-Infernal Affair star. Shawn Yue played the younger version of one of the lead characters in the trilogy and here he gets a well-deserved, more central role, as the head of Boss Dragon's secret unit. There is definitely a bit of young Chow Yun-Fat about him, even if his charisma hasn't fully evolved. There is also some solid support from Roy Cheung, as Uncle Chen, the man who trained the secret unit and Suki Kwan and Emma Wong as Dragon's loving mistress and Fat's emotional and unusually striking girlfriend respectively.
Colour of the Loyalty is a superb new Hong Kong thriller. Those who enjoyed the now classic Infernal Affairs movies will see where this came from and, although it does not break the mould, it still offers something new and interesting in the genre. I assume the title is a play on The Colour of Money, and should have been phrased The Colour of Loyalty, but something went wrong in the translation - as Colour of the Loyalty, it makes even less sense. I only bring this up here because one thing that does let the main feature down seriously is the subtitling. It is simply awful. Now, I have come across bad subtitles before - the kind you have to make sense of as you are going along - and they make it slightly harder to watch a film but seldom detract irreparably from your enjoyment of the movie. The subtitles on this film are occasionally so bad that you really struggle to grasp what was meant by the words on screen. Again, it is a superb thriller, but I raise this here because I think it would have been even better had the subtitles been proof read by somebody with English as their native language. They do not need a Chinese/English translator - it would have been much simpler than that to rectify and such a simple thing really did affect my enjoyment of the movie.