Ringo Lam’s The Suspect (1998)
Now that I have your attention with the image, I have to ask, what happened to Ringo Lam? He vanished off the face of the earth after for a few years after a string of Van Damme films in the early 2000s, than returned for briefly for a project with Tsui Hark and Johnnie To for Triangle which no one really talks about too much. And then nothing. Twitch reports that Ringo Lam has given his first camera interview in ten years in a French documentary titled Tarantino: The Disciple of Hong Kong, but I doubt that interview will go into too much detail about his absence but discuss the comparison between City on Fire and Resevoir Dogs for the 400th time.
On that note, It’s a good excuse to look at one of Ringo’s films that I’ve forgotten I had in my DVD collection. I don’t even really remember buying The Suspect so it must have been a gift, a prize or someone lent it to me without me returning it. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to investigate. The Susepct is about Don Lee (Louis Koo) who has been released from prison after serving about 12 years. Don wants to start a new crime-free life but is met with an old friend Max (Julian Cheung) who wants him to continue his work for the mob by assassinating the popular candidate in an upcoming election. Lee refuses which leads Cheung to pull the job himself using the same type of weapon left for Lee (the bazooka seen above!). This leads the police to believe that Don is the suspect as he is chased down by both the cops and his former friends.
I’ll keep it short and quick with this one. The Suspect is kind of dull. Both Julian Cheung and Louis Koo don’t have the charisma to breathe life into their roles that someone like Chow Yun Fat brought for Ringo’s earlier films such as Prison on Fire or Full Contact. Even if you factor out Chow, compare both Koo and Cheung to Simon Yam who plays the aspiring political candidate / triad leader in the film and you can see how the two are outshone by someone in a smaller role. Does Koo even change his facial expression?
The Suspect is also saddled with a pretty typical plot that lacks a lot of energy you’d expect form Hong Kong films. Perhaps he was influenced by his work in the United States Maximum Risk, but the plot feels kind of “quickie-American” thriller. At least half the film is in English at that as well so what does that leave us with? It’s a film that lacks Hong Kong flavour and it’s pretty damn average. Don’t expect a re-release on blu-ray anytime soon.