A-1 (HK 2004)
A-1 is a refreshingly cerebral film, a murder investigation thriller without buckets of blood and ultra-violence (not that these are bad, just that its nice to have a change). The gorgeous Angelica Lee stars as a reporter with a debt problem. Not only are debt collectors in the shape of Anthony Wong and Eric Kot hanging around wanting her money her boyfriend has died in a car crash. And when Anthony Wong turns out to be an ex-cop and suggests the car crash wasn't an accident then Angelica begins an investigation into what really happened with her rather gormless photographer friend in tow played by Edison Chen.
Had Angelica's boyfriend uncovered a plot to cover up the death of a model because of the involvement of a son of a tycoon? Well yes and is the editor of the newspaper covering it up? Well maybe. And what is the role of the police in all this? The film is an enjoyable exploration of HK from it's gadget obsessed (and debt stricken) youngsters to the super-rich and the influence they can exert on society, even the forces of law and order. There is some action but most of the film is slow burning investigation. There is also a slightly romantic subplot involving Anthony and Angelica, even if she says he reminds her of her Dad!
One criticism of the film is that it ends very neatly with various parties coming clean about their parts in corruption and maybe a bit of a damp squid with little suspense but maybe we are just too used to big action set-pieces and plenty of spent cartridges. The sudden about-face by Anthony about one of the key parts in the plot also confuses slightly. But this is a very enjoyable film with good characters and a good script, some may call it boring however i call it intelligent and dare i say it realistic?