Punished is the latest Milkyway production starring Anthony Wong and Richie Ren. Law Wing-Cheong’s film doesn’t do anything new to set itself apart from previous Milkyway offerings but what it does manage to do is tell a gripping story in a smart and efficient way. Wong Ho-Chiu (Anthony Wong) is a wealthy but cantankerous businessman who’s loose cannon of a daughter gets kidnapped by thugs looking for a payout. Things turn grim quickly and Wong turns to his bodyguard Chor (Richie Ren) to hunt down the perpetrators one by one.
Like many Milkyway crime thrillers, Punished offers a glimpse into a pessimistic world filled with brutal violence, seediness and greed. The story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before but does manage to keep you engaged with its fragmented structure and unsentimental approach.
The real reason to see Punished is for the performances. Anthony Wong proving again that he’s one of the best actors working today is astounding as a father who’s trying to keep his anguish and remorse in check while his life slowly falls apart. Richie Ren who has practically made a career out of being charming and charismatic dials it down this time around. He doesn’t have many lines in the film but the quiet rage behind his eyes hint at the pain that he has endured and also capable of inflicting.
The Long Arm of the Law II (1987)
This unrelated sequel to The Long Arm of the Law is a film filled with frenetic action and held together by a pair of strong performances. Tsui Kam-Kong in an early film role is great as the leader of a gang of soldiers from China who go undercover for the Hong Kong police in exchange for permanent residence. As good as Tsui is, the film belongs to underrated Alex Man. He’s a force to be reckoned with as a veteran undercover cop who befriends Tsui and his gang. It’s a supporting role and he doesn’t have a lot of screen time but when he’s does appear he injects the film with an explosiveness that’s unmatched.
The Most Wanted (1994)
Wong Kam Sai’s seldom seen film The Most Wanted is a gritty crime thriller about Ho Chi-Yung (Lau Ching Wan) an undercover cop who finds himself becoming more and more involved with the gang he’s infiltrating. Yes, it’s another cop going undercover story, but this one features some hard-hitting action sequences and a solid performance from the one and only Lau Ching-Wan.
The Suspect (1998)
Last but not least, I was able to catch up with a flick I have always been meaning to see, Ringo Lam’s The Suspect. It’s an entertaining action film that takes place in the Philippines and features a strong cast. Simon Yam, Ray Lui, Julian Lam and Ada Choi all put in good performances but the actor that steals the show is Louis Koo. Koo plays Don Lee, an ex-convict who after being released from prison is immediately enwrapped in a political assassination. Absent are the usual Louis Koo ticks, the cocky smile, the woodenness and false bravado. Instead, Koo fully inhabits the hapless Lee with a believable vulnerability that makes you root for him.