Triple Tap 枪王之王 (2010) – Hong Kong
Its opening scene shows and doesn’t tell, and you don’t know why. You’ll like this movie, but also hate it. And you’d think: Geez, what do you expect? It’s a Hong Kong action flick. No. It’s more stink than you wanted.
A Tap Too Much
Kwan (Louis Koo) and Chong (Daniel Wu) are sharp shooting pistol experts, coming from very different backgrounds; investment/currencies banking, and police detective work, respectively. They are competing for cash – prizes and glory in contest – when we first meet them, and to say they are very skilled is incomplete. They’re very, very skilled. Hmm, yeah. That’s better.
Kwan takes home first prize for his accomplishing an unheard of triple tap (look at the title), and Chong second. He’s impressed with the banker’s concentration and talent, unrivaled reserve and polite sportsmanship. He’s pretty good. Looks good too, while shooting those targets, and it seems Kwan can be a friend. We feel that’s special, because he appears uppity and cold, too focused on making money than befriending another gun nut. They will be friends though you think, to meet again in filmic narrative later, and a small handshake does some foreshadowing to prove – yeah! – you’re right in believing so.
Kwan is getting arrested all of a sudden then… While I mean stuff happened, but I’m condensing. …for killing men, only an hour or so after the tournament (in elapsed, filmic time), and Chong arrives to confront him.
WTF? He seemed so cool, so collected; not the killing kind. He’s had himself a nice tan at the contest, and the tanned kind don’t kill. But, and it’s a big but that he argues, it was self-defense! Kwan says this to Chong, and Chong knows him to be telling truth. Self- and public-defense was he cause for violence, and we believe him too. We saw it. Do tell Koo. Do bloody tell.
On Kwan’s way home from the gun contest, there was a robbery. With his competition pistol in the trunk, Kwan took action; we see him in the act. Bam! Bam! Bodies hit the floor. And it happens so quickly, while you’re watching, on a high rising Hong Kong freeway, with a bank van and masked hoodlums bashed and bruised, all around. You maybe think you’ve missed something, an important clue for reevaluating the plot later. But who’re you kidding? It’s a bad action movie. No one cares.
You’re watching the exaggerated, very brief shots of the stealing with confidence. Kwan was a hero. No doubt. It is a shame he is charged though, for carrying and using his pistol. Yeah, that’s bad. But detective Chong wants to help, to get him out of trouble.
But is he really that great and good? Chong doesn’t know this thrill seeking business exec personally. And it’s a challenge to investigate when Kwan is sharply educated and well versed in psychology, quoting psychology textbooks in his temporary prison cell, somber whilst also menacing.
Chong begins to doubt, and so do we. We have to, with Kwan’s past becoming darker and murkier all of a sudden, as things progress, with friends appearing in lower places.He’s scarier than he first looked.
Director Derek Yee produced Overheard in 2009, an espionage film with some grit and very slight evidence for visual uniqueness. It’s about a team of spies, working to survey a corporation for illegal activity, and honesty is rare to find in everyone. That’s the problem with Triple Tap. It is not exactly different, copied and bland like other cheese fest kinds of action movies, with deceit found in everyone for the sake of inserting conflict. What a shame.
Him and cinematographer Anthony Pun know how to stage incredible action scenes, dynamic and taut, but the fizz goes flat fast. I would think it difficult to make your movie suck with killer Pun compositions, but the lines of most characters and the arranging series of plot points here results in a lopsided, limping entity. I don’t know what it is.
It’s not confusing, but it is depressing – sad, like you need to rest. The writing forces your feeling lonely and uninspired for watching another movie soon. It must have started with that end in mind, to dissuade your wanting to go outside and take a breath from maybe watching too many films. But we’re cinephiles, you and I. We can’t do that.
The color grading is the most impressive feat of the film, bringing needed color to character skin tones, orangely tanned, and cool greys – extra sheeny – to guns and knives. The performances by Louis Koo and Daniel Wu are enjoyable too, but even then it’s not enough to watch them talk and act and shoot for your really liking the film. Like a paperweight, it’s rough and unnecessarily heavy.
I wanted to love this film because I am a fan of Louis Koo, him always charming and strong faced. He seems to posses the right mix of cool and class to play hero types in most other films, but, even here, he is just a slot filled, with spouted lines. Go see his works with director Johnnie To to prove my recommending him as a favorite actor as good. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Triple Tap resides in a lower place of film letdowns, not rewatchable, and I cannot help but warn you it’s very soap opera-ey.
Yee’s produced semi prequel, Double Tap, in 2000, I’ve heard, is decent; that it links to some of the character back stories here. Yeah, no. Not for me. Watch it when a Saturday afternoon rains and you were hoping to stay indoors anyway. Tappity tap, bang bang.Here, I end my puns.