Touted as the first Chinese-language remake of a Hollywood movie (in this case, 2004's Jason Statham-Kim Basinger starrer Cellular), Benny Chan's latest action venture, CONNECTED sees him at the top of his game as usual, if not better. Like his previous outings, NEW POLICE STORY (2004), ROB-B-HOOD (2006) and INVISIBLE TARGET (2007), they are all enormously entertaining but in which CONNECTED shared an equal bundle of fun but until now, director Benny Chan still making the same old mistake of "overdone" everything he offers here.
The story, in the meantime, bares the near-identical resemblance of the Hollywood counterpart. Louis Koo is Bob, a timid-looking debt collector who is working at a dead-end job has a bad history of not fulfilling his promise. Bob's son Kit (Presley Tam) is about to fly to Australia to be with his mother, and Bob promises to meet him at the airport. However, Kit is doubtful about Bob's so-called "promise" in which he knows it will ends up with nothing but disappointment. But this time, Bob will make it to the airport no matter what and proves to his son that he is a responsible father after all. He seems to be fulfilling his promise, that is, until he is distracted by a random phone call asking for help. The nervous caller appears to be a woman named Grace Wong (Barbie Hsu, of TV's Meteor Garden) who claimed she's been kidnapped by a mysterious black-clad bad guy (Liu Yee) who threatens and kills her if she doesn't find way to connect her younger brother who has the bad guy's "stuff". At first Bob thinks she must be making prank call but after a few while, her tearful claim becomes so convincing that he agrees to help her anyway. So he starts by trying to persuade a passing traffic cop, Fai (Nick Cheung Ka-Fai) for help, only to be distracted by some other situation. Soon Bob finds himself caught in the middle of unknown danger as he struggles to help Grace Wong, while being pursuit by local authorities while doing his best to fulfill the promise to see his son in the airport at the other end.
While the movie's two-hour-plus length is certainly overlong, rest assured that director Benny Chan knows how to keep the pace flowing in a frantic pace as entertaining as possible. Likewise, the action are well-staged and delivers the kind of high-octane excitement one would expect from a Hong Kong summer blockbuster event. And one spectacular set piece worth mentioning is the silly but hugely dramatic mini-car chase scene which sees Bob is driving recklessly along the busy street while causing multiple car pile-ups, tears down scaffolding, hitting off fenders, skidding along the monsoon drain before plows through a truck of Pepsi Max cans.
The cast, as you will expect from Benny Chan, is ranging from reasonably good to overacting performance but they are altogether entertaining to watch for. Louis Koo plays his usual lightweight, everyman self with equal charisma and though his Bob can be a bit annoying, his character is likable enough to make the audience rooted for him. Barbie Hsu, in the meantime, is acceptable as the tearful Grace Wong, though she tends to be overwhelming with all the "emotional" scenes. Liu Ye is coolly charismatic and menacing as the bad guy, while Nick Cheung Ka-Fai essays the same old veteran cop role with subtlety. Other than the car chase highlight, there is a very hilarious moment involving Bob is desperately wanted to get a charger for his mobile in a cell phone outlet, only to be annoyed by a over-friendly employee who keeps asking a lot of questions.
While everything here spells "over-the-top" including a fact that a Motorola phone can sustained a lot of damage, this movie is essentially a dumb action galore designed for fun-filled entertainment.
At least, it's better than the ill-fated PAINTED SKIN shown earlier this summer.