Sometimes, less is more, even in otherwise awesome action movies.
In his new movie, I Did It My Way, director/cinematographer Jason Kwan (Chasing the Dragon) joins forces with the first-time screenwriter Sing-Yip Sau to take audiences on a deep dive into the world of a mysterious drug kingpin as he transitions his operation from selling on the streets to selling online. The film is full of good and bad guys, but none of the characters are as clearly defined as you imagine. As the story progresses, many secrets are revealed, alliances get switched, and lines of loyalty get drawn, crossed out, and drawn again. Some of these sudden shifts in story and tone are very effective, but it soon gets to the point where it gets too distracting as you try to figure out who is on whose side while watching both sides beat the crap out of each other.
On that level, it’s clear that action director/stunt coordinator Kar Lok Chin, who started his career in Sammo Hung’s Stunt Team, doesn’t care who is on what side of the story as long as they can throw a punch, take a fall, get back up, and be ready for more. I Did It My Way is filled with many memorable action sequences; one extended fight ending in a wine cellar is exhilarating. And while you may wonder just how some of these guys get up to keep fighting after being brutalized to such a degree, the action director does a great job of keeping all the stunts rooted in reality.
The lead actors in I Did It My Way will be familiar to anyone following the Hong Kong action movie scene. Andy Lau, who has made more than 160 films, is fascinating to watch as Lin Zhen’an, the barrister who pulls all the strings of the drug cartel behind the scenes. Lam Ka Tung is equally effective as Sau Ho, the barrister’s best friend and right-hand man whose life and loyalty are far more complicated than even he realizes. And although his character, Fong Hing, doesn’t have the dramatic arc that his co-stars go through, Peng Yuyan is perfect playing the steely-eyed senior superintendent of the Cybercrime Investigation Unit.
Even though the story is overcomplicated, particularly when the Hong Kong cartel starts a war with a South American drug cartel, there is enough action – and strong acting – to keep the audience engaged.