2002 (2001)

Directed by: Wilson Yip
Written by: Wilson Yip, Vincent Kok, Gwok Ji Kin & Szeto Kam-Yuen
Producer: Vincent Kok
Starring: Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Law Kar-Ying & Danielle Graham

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com


Nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2002:
Best Visual Effects

Wilson Yip stunned fans and critics with his first big budget feature, Skyline Cruisers. They all slammed the film (rightfully so) and rumours surrounding his next film was anything but good. But Wilson Yip kind of redeemed himself with 2002.

Chiu (Nicholas Tse from Metade Fumaca) and Sam (Sam Lee from Bio Zombie) are ghosthunters in a special branch of the Hong Kong Police department called 2002. Chiu has been given the ability to see and interact with ghosts while Sam himself is one. We quickly learn that Sam's time for reincarnation is approaching and Chiu must seek out a new suitable partner. He chooses trafficpolice Fung (Stephen Fung from Avenging Fist) but according to fate he must make one huge sacrifice to become a true part of 2002...

The movie starts off with a bang and we get to see some fairly good fight choreography and well inserted computer generated imagery. After this the movie does something that one of Yip's previous movies Bullets Over Summer also did, it slows down. What we get to witness next is some good insight in both Chiu's and Fung's lives. It's not revolutionary characterdrama but it feels fresh considering what kind of movie this is, and we do care what happens to our characters. Kudos to director Yip for injecting some of his human touches to this story.

When the movie shifts gears again, action choreographer Poon Kwin Gam, continues to treat us with decent fights and action sequences (the swimmingpool fight being one highlight). It's quite obvious that some choreographers working in Hong Kong today can strike a better balance when it comes to the use of wires and CGI. In Hollywood filmmakers just want to add more and more of this to the point where it becomes plain bad (Romeo Must Die is a good example of that).

The plot and events around our main characters is sometimes a bit incredible but we buy it thanks to the now established good report between Nicholas Tse and Stephen Fung (they were both in Gen-X Cops for example). Their chemistry elevates 2002 and it makes us sort of forget some of the things we should question. As Chiu's mentor we see Law Kar-Ying who provides us with the films comic highlights, most notable towards the end of the movie.

However, Danielle Graham does not work in her role as the romantic interest for Nicholas Tse's character. She is not only very wooden in the role but she is not a Cantonese or Mandarin speaker and therefore dubbed by some other girl. This stands out since the movie was shot in sync sound and some scenes with her fall rather flat. I guess she was cast because she was a pretty face and the audience would ignore the dubbing. Well guess what? It didn't work. Somehow I don't think Wilson Yip was 100% behind the casting of her.

I'm actually pleased that Wilson Yip has found his way back to his way of directing and writing. With 2002 he has shown that he can combine good characterization and still make an entertaining action movie.

The DVD:

Golden Harvest Home Video presents 2002 in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio without anamorphic enhancement. Since it's such a recent movie we should expect a good print and that's what we have received. Besides from some softness in indoor scenes, the print is sharp with good detail and black levels.

We get four audio options here. The original Cantonese track presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 and the same options in Mandarin. It's a pretty good track that uses all channels to great effect, although I would've liked some extra "oomph" to some scenes. Having said that maybe it will sound better in 5.1 (I only have a Pro Logic setup).

The English subtitles are a bit on the small side but always easy to read and with only a few spelling errors. Stupidly enough the subtitles are placed partly on the picture and the black bars, which is a shame for us widescreen tv owners. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included.

In the extras department we get the theatrical trailer, character profiles and a making of featurette (20 minutes). This has only Chinese subtitles so it has little value for many of us besides some fun behind the scenes antics from Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung and director Wilson Yip (check out his cigarette trick) No scene selection is provided strangely enough but the movies is divided into chapters.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson