Posted: 09/18/2003


The Colour of Truth


by Del Harvey

Anthony Wong gives a tour de force performance in this straightforward crime drama.

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As the film opens a young boy narrates, showing us the last time he sees his father (A cameo by Lau Ching-wan). His father and mother are arguing, and his father buys the boy all of the balloon vendor’s balloons. His father’s friend is a notorious gangster (cameo by Francis Ng). His father is going to warn his friend that special inspector Huang and 200 men are coming to take him in, one way or another. As father and friend are trying to escape on the rooftops, Huang (Anthony Wong) blocks their path. What happens next is not clear, but suddenly Huang is crouched over the lifeless bodies of the boy’s father and his friend.

As the boy grows up he finds he has a protector who seems to be a triad member. This protector (Jordan Chan) appears at different and opportune times when the young boy, nicknamed Cola (Terence Yin) seems to need help the most. The protector is, of course, the son of his father’s friend, the gangster. And Cola not only vows revenge upon his father’s killer, but becomes a cop of some notoriety, just like his father. The real test comes when Cola is promoted to Huang’s Special Crimes Unit. Suddenly the young man finds himself in an odd and confusing situation, especially since Huang appears to be anything but the vile and evil killer the boy has imagined all his life. Adding to his confusion is the introduction of an attractive young woman who is the daughter of a retired mobster he and the team must protect.

Terence Yin is likeable enough and he does a fine job as the vengeful youth. But it is Anthony Wong who shines as the ambiguously good Inspector Huang. Wong’s performance is so good you’re never sure whether his character is a complete fabrication or if he’s the real deal. Wong is so good in this film that he is worth watching all by himself.

There there is Jordan Chan as the son of mobster Francis Ng. Chan can do more acting business with a stern look than any 10 film stars in any country. With an actor of Chan’s ability in a supporting role, any film’s quality is bound to improve. However, it amplifies the weakness of a lesser actor in a starring role, such is the case with Yin.

Lau Ching-wan and Francis Ng are old pros and work exceptionally well together here as they have in the past. Like Chan, their presence enriches the most mundane roles.

A quality film with a solid script and excellent characterization, The Colour of the Truth is one of the better Hong Kong police dramas in some time. I recommend it highly.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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