Posted: 03/12/2004

 

Final Justice

(1997)

by Del Harvey



A lost and lonely girl befriends and seduces a priest, then cries “Rape!” when he refuses to leave his calling for her.

This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.


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Lau Ching Wan (Victim, Big Bullet, The Longest Nite, Running Out of Time) is a devout Catholic priest who grew up with rising businessman and gangster Eric Tsang (Infernal Affairs, The Accidental Spy, Gen-X Cops). Tsang, Hong Kong’s answer to Danny DeVito, kills those who stand in his way, then runs to his old friend Father Li (Lau) to confess so that he can go to Heaven when he dies. Sure proof that he’s a smart businessman.

Father Li is conflicted over all of this, of course. He tries hard to make his old friend see the errors of his ways, but old friendships go deep. Although there are some things he will not do, turning his back on a friend is not one of them.

The good father also makes visits to friends in hospital and prison, spreading God’s word wherever he can. During one such visit he is treated to an exhibition of extreme horniness by an inmate whose attractive young girlfriend, Donna (Almen Wong from Shanghai Grand, The Naked Weapon), is embarrassed by the boyfriend’s pleading her to pull down her top and show her tits in front of the good father. Later, while waiting for a bus outside the prison, Lau runs into Wong again. She shares her umbrella in the rainstorm. Sometime later she comes to confession and begins to describe in sensual detail the way it feels for a man to be inside her. When he tells her to spare him the details and walks quickly off to his room, she follows and practically rapes the celibate priest. The temptation is too much for the good priest and they make love in his room. She returns to see him several times and, in frustration, he shouts for her to go and that he can never be with her. Jilted and confused, she spends several days moping about until she bruises herself and goes to the police, crying “Rape!” The ensuing scandal is devastating to the father, and he soon learns his best friends are his old buddy, gangster businessman Tsang, and his new lawyer, the very talented Carman Lee (Lifeline, Too Many Ways to Be No. 1).

Final Justice is an engrossing drama with excellent performances from all cast members. Producer Johnnie To (PTU, Fulltime Killer, Running Out of Time) and director Derek Chiu (Sealed with a Kiss) have done a fine job with this fictional account based on a true story. The only drawback lies not with the filmmakers or the actors, but with poorly executed subtitles. This is, sadly, the biggest reason many foreign films do not work well in the United States. With many Hong Kong action films, this kind of thing is often regrettably laughable but rarely does a genre film suffer badly for it. With a drama, however, it becomes a very serious problem, as the true meaning of dialogue and voiceovers are easily lost when a meaning is misconstrued or confused altogether.

Final Justice is a strong little drama that is entertaining and pleasing. If you’re looking for action, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a good film, a nice little drama, and fine acting turns, then rent this one.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, and teaches screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.



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