The Masked Prosecutor


Year of release: 1999

Genre: cop drama

Director: Herman Yau

Action directors: Douglas Kung, Bruce Law

Producer: Nam Yin

Writers: Nam Yin, Lam Kee-To

Cinematography: Joe Chan

Editor: Chan Kei-Hop

Music: Mak Jan-Hung

Stars: Louis Koo, Blacky Ko, Jordan Chan, Grace Yip, Jessica Hester, Michael Tse, Frankie Ng, Alex Lam, Lo Meng, Wayne Lai

Rated IIB for violence and language

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Since the early 1990's, Herman Yau has been one of Hong Kong's most interesting directors, able to work in many different genres from straight drama to over-the-top exploitation, with the results usually being something well worth watching. Unfortunately, despite having a solid cast and an interesting premise, his 1999 release The Masked Prosecutor never seems to be able to find its' groove, and the end results feel more than a bit washed-out.

The film revolves around Tong (Louis Koo), a former police officer who has taken to vigilantism to try and make up for the death of his squadmate, Wan (Michael Tse). Since Tong's first few victims are "only" beaten, the cops don't take the case too seriously, especially since the lead detective, Guy (Blacky Ko) is another former partner of Tong. But as Tong's violence increases, a young officer, Lun (Jordan Chan), is brought in, determined to bring Tong to justice once and for all.

The Masked Prosecutor's major fault is its' extremely uneven tone. What should be a serious cop drama/suspense picture is sullied by comedic parts that feel terribly out of place, even when taking into the schizophrenic nature of many Hong Kong productions. There's also a romantic sub-plot with Jordan and Grace Yip (who plays Blacky's daughter) that serves no purpose other than trying to promote the movie to teenagers that goes nowhere. Nam Yin's script also leaves a lot of holes and generally leaves the characters coming off as hollow, as we learn very little about them and exactly why they're acting the way they do.

When the movie does click together, The Masked Prosecutor offers up some decent thrills, such as a fun car chase sequence helmed by noted action director Bruce Law. But these parts are sadly too few and far between, and what we're left with is just another average Hong Kong cop drama. The Masked Prosecutor isn't a bad movie, but in a genre that saw dozens of similar (and better) releases during the 1990's, there's more than enough superior product out there to make this something that's more of a rainy day rental rather than a must-have purchase.