Hong Kong/China, 2010, 113 min
Hong Kong crime thriller pro Dante Lam’s latest sleekly stylized, hard-boiled drama comes pierced by an uncharacteristic tone of melancholy and urban gloom. Focusing on the ripped backstreets and slums of the city, Lam examines the moral quandaries faced by police who use paid informants to set up their stings on the criminal underworld. Nick Cheung gives a powerful and nuanced performance as police inspector Don Lee, whose use of an informant explodes in his face, causing him to question the tricky cop/informant relationship. As Lee, Cheung exudes a studious and unflappable surface, while underneath roils an increasingly disturbed and desperate man. When his new informer, Ghost Jr., is released from prison, Cheung endeavors to get things right from the beginning. Played with restrained gusto by Nicholas Tse, Ghost Jr. falls in with a wanted and extremely dangerous gang, and the thrill ride takes off. Though it explores deep themes, The Stool Pigeon also offers Lam’s patented action sequences, which are fierce and head-spinning. Among the best scenes are a car chase accompanied by the soothing sounds of “White Christmas,” the rushed and furious action of a jewelry store robbery and the gripping and violent finale in the ruined schoolroom of some forgotten slum. In the swirl of several wrenching plot twists and a deepening existential angst, any character left standing has a bloody face to boot.
In Cantonese with subtitles.