Heat Team (2004)

Directed by: Dante Lam
Written by: Chan Hing-Kar & John Chan
Producers: Chan Hing-Kar & Jimmy Law
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan, Yumiko Cheng, Victoria Wu, Dave Wong, Wong Ban-Yuen, Carl Ng & Danny Lee

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Rumoured to be a sequel to Dante Lam's own Hit Team, a surprisingly solid combo of character depth and hyperactive mainstream action, that rumour stopped at the working title stage and Heat Team comes out of the mold of something less gloomy. Wanting to spice Hong Kong cinema up with something good looking, heavy sounding but basic (rather than laughably cheap and basic), the notions of the buddy cop comedy are brought to the forefront in fun fashion that doesn't extend all throughout the ride though.

It's hot in Hong Kong (but this flick won't go down the Do The Right Thing route) and Lee Yu Ting (Aaron Kwok) is arriving at a restaurant to try and solve a hostage situation. Two women, jealous at each other due them both loving cop Wong Kai Chun (Eason Chan), the notorious playboy of the force. With a situation that is cleared but that Lee doesn't approve of, he doesn't feel too bad as Wong takes a bullet in his ass before the whole deal is over. Naturally the two opposites will work together on a special unit trying to nail thief Ken. Early on showing their hatred for each other, when they break the air conditioning, the following days of tracking Ken via Santos (Carl Ng) and Ken's girlfriend To Yu-Fung (Victoria Wu) will be tough. Especially so since they all carry burdens of relationship trouble, even their boss Bobo (Yumiko Cheng) who's about to have her upcoming marriage derail...

It's neat, tidy, organized and expert cop vs. the laid back, lustful one yes? It fits the mold but not entirely which is why Heat Team can raise an eyebrow or two. Dante Lam has those characteristics placed there by the co-penned script of Chan Hing-Kar's but injects something more fun and human too and that is that nobody's perfect. In fact, Lee and Wong are pretty bad cops and are made to look bad more often than not. Both rash, absent-minded and trying to be movie-cops to bad effect, thankfully Dante Lam steers the comedy coming out of this onto a level of fun that isn't grating (only Jim Chin manages to disrupt the mood for a little while). The two macho-men even treat issues of NOT sitting down at their desk as a game and you can always solve your conflicts with a bit of office paintball. Yes, Lam doesn't ask us to rely on things making sense realistically but more on wooshy noises and camera moves to go along with the nonsense. Amazingly enough, it often works.

There's consciously little danger in the film even if the journey's of two opposites becoming friends involves a little bloodshed and I like Dante's stance of trying to make less of a cheap, recycled product. In all honesty, there's so much gratuitous cool shots to add to a cool factor that you would think it's a parody and in reality, little of it matters cinematically. But you're weak for when someone provides this fun with these tools being employed correctly in YOUR mind. He mixes in sitcom-esque relationship trouble, with Lee having to deal with the muscular boyfriend of his ex and Wong closing in more on Bobo with his soft lips and tongue. The tool he's most proud of, even Lee is fascinated at one point which leads to a scene where cinema homoeroticism is brought so far up front that it becomes a fine parody of it.

Stopping all the wooshy noises for his last half hour, we realize though that Heat Team never had any good idea of closure and despite the actors providing weight to the fun material (especially Danny Lee in an amusing supporting role as their superior), we come to care very little of that entertaining- and amusing level prior once we've taken in the finale. Would perhaps the ideas come full circle had Lam let his cameraman have playtime all throughout the piece? Perhaps. I do know where the fun was located in the film so perhaps that WAS indeed a key.

The DVD (Universe):

Video: 1.79:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.

Audio: Cantonese (with passages in English and Mandarin) Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1.

Subtitles: English (quite a number of errors but nothing that can't be misunderstood), traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.

Extras: None. There was a 2 disc set available prior that had a making of and deleted scenes among other things. No English subtitles on those supplements though.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson