image courtesy of Universe



Year of release: 2002

Company: Century Creator

Genre: crime

Running time: 80 min.

Director: Bee Chan

Script: Bee Chan

Action director: Hon Chun

Producer: Daneil Lam

Cinematography: Edmund Fong

Editor: Poon Hung

Music: Alan Wong

Stars: Eric Tsang, Michael Wong, Simon Yam, Mary Kwan

Rated IIB for violence and language

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Michael Wong. Image courtesy of Universe.

In the over-saturated world of crime movies, it takes something special for a film to stand out, and unfortunately, Partners just doesn't have that. I wouldn't say it's as bad as some other reviews have made it out to be, but it really does have that kind of "me too" flavor going -- and it takes a lot more than that these days to impress viewers. Despite their best intentions, the film-makers do everything pretty much by the book and ultimately that is Partners's downfall.

The casting at first doesn't bode well for the movie; Simon Yam is a lock in a crime movie, but Eric Tsang and Michael Wong? Tsang is well-known for his comedic roles, where he usually over-acts like a monkey on crack, and Michael Wong, well, he's Michael Wong, the man that can simultaneously murder both Cantonese and English in the same sentence. Thankfully, Tsang reigns in his manic energy and manages to give a good dramatic performance, and the film-makers wisely decided to just let Mikey deliver most of his lines in English (which, as any long-time HK film fan will tell you, is much better than his attempts at Cantonese).


Simon Yam. Image courtesy of Universe.

The problem is that the actors don't have much to work with. Partners's plot is standard stuff all the way. Yam, Tsang and Wong play a group of thieves whose loyalty to each other is put to the test when Tsang takes a dangerous job for personal reasons. And that's about it. There are the requisite plot twists and double-crosses, but most anyone will see them coming a mile away, and the flat script doesn't help matters any. It's nothing horrible, but we've seen this thing done so many times before, and better. By the time Partners ends, the viewer is left with a kind of "that's it?" feeling, as if there should have been something more to the film, but there's not.

Things are not all bad. The movie for the most part is technically well-done, with a few scenes that have some striking cinematography, and the action bits are fairly good, if a bit too dependent on flashy "MTV-style" editing. There is also some nice comedy in the movie, such as Michael's aborted attempts to pick up on Mary Kwan (especially when contrasted with Wong's "gweilo pimp" image recent movies have had with him, where he gets to bed beautiful women with little effort). But, once again, even though for the most part Partners is a decent movie, in the end, that's all it really is. There is none of the gusto that highlight the classics of the genre, and as such, the film can only warrant a mild recommendation.


Eric Tsang. Image courtesy of Universe.