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The Beast Stalker Review: A superior entry among Hong Kong’s gritty cop thrillers
Helmer Dante Lam brings fresh vigour to the Hong Kong policier in The Beast Stalker. A taut hostage-drama thriller to satisfy moviegoers keen on more nuanced character development amid all the gunplay and bravado.

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The thrills are quick to take off when a post-credits police raid segues into a horrific pursuit leaving one bad guy dead, another injured. And a schoolgirl accidentally killed by plainclothes police captain Tong Fei (Nicholas Tse or Ta Dinh Phong).

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Flash forward three months and Tong is wracked with guilt for the girl’s death, while her mother, barrister Ann Gao (Zhang Jingchu), is preparing for the trial of chase survivor Cheung. Gao wants nothing to do with Tong but when her other daughter, Ling, is kidnapped, she has no choice. The girl will only be freed if Gao tampers with evidence to get Cheung let off. And while the barrister is conflicted over what to do. Tong steps in and gets on the trail. The hostage taker, it turns out, is a debt-ridden and half-blind heavy named Hung (Nick Cheung). And he’s a hard one to catch.

It’s here that Lam and his team skew from the norm. Offering equal room in the plot to develop figures on both sides of the law. Tong and Hung each go through immensely humbling changes: just when the cocksure cop must step back from being all charged up and berating his peers, his underworld target is also experiencing his own comedown after younger thugs enter his line of business.

What’s more, Hung is looking after his mute and paralysed partner. Li (Miao Pu), while slumming it and tending to kidnapping jobs. Such a sympathetic, even tender, treatment of onscreen lawbreakers has become too uncommon in high-end Hong Kong cinema; today’s co-productions geared toward mainland Chinese release are more likely to render screen adversaries in stark black and white, without relief for thoughtful character development in between.

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Top-billed Tse starts off the picture severely overacting. In loud opposition to the more measured performances that follow. But he’s suitably tough later as a cop with trouble on his mind. Cheung, like several others in the picture, appears heavily scarred and adds a terrific, creepy edge to his central kidnapper role, making The Beast Stalker (Chuoc Toi) one of many fine showings he has achieved in recent years.

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Zhang Jingchu likewise impresses in a part that mixes deep personal anxiety with public duty. Filming is initially weighed down with an over-reliance on wobbly handheld photography. But once viewers settle in with the overall dark mood. The Beast Stalker offers superb local character and a fine array of highlights, from tense stakeouts to chaotic foot chases through crowded districts. With the writers’ efforts to flesh out the protagonists coming as a bonus. The Beast Stalker is a superior entry among Hong Kong’s gritty cop thrillers (phim hanh dong hong kong).

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