is a haunted film on many levels. It is loosely inspired by the case of Tsui
Po-ko, the notorious cop-killing HK cop, who launched a one man crime-spree. His
unquiet ghost hangs over the film, alongside the Demon King and other traditional
malevolent spirits, whom the film’s villains periodically invoke. Yet, within
the film itself, a highly strung police constable may or may not be tormented
by ghosts from his past. Yet, he might somehow still bring a desperate criminal
gang to justice in Dante Lam’s That Demon
opens this Friday in New York.
thoroughly by-the-book Dave Wong is so unpopular with his colleagues he has
been banished to the night watchman’s booth in a major hospital. Raised by his
pathologically strict father to do the righteous thing in any circumstance, he
automatically agrees to give blood when a critically injured O-negative patient
arrives. It turns out his transfusion saved Hon Kong, a.k.a. the Demon King,
the leader of demon-mask wearing “Gang from Hell.” Inspector “Pops” Mok is not
exactly thrilled by Wong’s act of compassion, because Hon had just killed two
of his men in a raid gone bad.
the eerily resourceful Hon escapes, Wong concludes it is his destiny to capture
the ringleader and the rest of his gang. However, when Hon’s accomplices turn
against him, there might be an opportunity for the Demon King and his nemesis
to forge a narrow alliance. At least Hon seems to think so.
is one of the top action directors in the world, so it is no shock that he
stages some impressive shootouts. However, his flair for creepy ambiance and
ambiguous psychological suspense is a happy surprise (if by happy you mean dark
and ominous). Eventually, he mostly resolves the open question of how much
skullduggery may be ascribed to supernatural agencies versus everyday criminal
evil, but one thing is certain: karma is absolutely merciless.
you need a wiry hardnose, it is tough to beat Nick Cheung, who is especially
steely as Hon. Better known as a romantic lead, Daniel Wu has played the odd
psycho before, rather overdoing the twitch in Shinjuku Incident, for instance. However, even when he completely
loses it, he keeps Wong clearly tethered to his tragic past, thereby
maintaining viewers’ investment quite compellingly throughout the ensuing
chaos. This is largely a two-man show, but Astrid Chan adds a note of authority
as the psycho-therapist enlisted to treat Wong by his sympathetic superior
In Demon, Lam
stages plenty of well lit, intricately choreographed action sequences, but also
takes us on an atmospheric tour of the graveyards and condemned tenements of
Kowloon. Tense and moody, it is recommended for multiple genre enthusiasts and
fans of the superstar co-leads when it opens this Friday (4/18) in New York at
the AMC Empire, from China Lion Entertainment.
Labels: Daniel Wu, Dante Lam, Hong Kong Cinema, Nick Cheung