Bullets Over Summer

Executive in charge of production, Patrick Tong.

Executive in charge of production, Patrick Tong.

Directed by Wilson Yip. Screenplay, Matt Chow, Yip, Cheung Man. Camera (color), Lam Wah-chuen; editor, Cheung Ka-fai; music, Wai Kai-leung; art director, Stanley Cheung. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 16, 1999. (Also in Palm Springs Film Festival.) Original Cantonese title: Baulit yingging. (Cantonese dialogue.) Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Francis Ng, Louis Koo, Michelle Alicia Saram, Stephanie Lin, Helena Law , Lai Yiu-cheung, David Lee, Lo Mong, Joe Lee, Matt Chow.

One of Hong Kong’s new breed of character-driven cop movies, headlined by “Beastcops” last year, “Bullets Over Summer” is too leisurely for too long to attract a following beyond hard-core Asiaphiles. But for those prepared to stay the course, pic does pay emotional dividends, and reps an interesting departure from pure genre fare by Wilson Yip, whose only other notable title has been the 1996 “Mongkok Story.”

Short-fused cop Mike (Francis Ng) and his young partner, Brian (Louis Koo), go on surveillance in an old-style apartment building that some bank robbers are using as a refuge. Holing up with a cantankerous old woman (Helena Law), they get to know the locals: Mike falls for a young pregnant woman (1991 Miss Malaysia Stephanie Lin) and Brian for a goalless teenager (Michelle Alicia Saram). First hour ambles along, with plenty of Canto-shtick, until, in a beautifully judged sequence, everyone suddenly comes face to face with the murderous gang in the old woman’s apartment. Shot in a disjointed, off-center way, film slightly recalls Ng’s interesting directorial debut, the loose-cannon cop drama “9413 …” (1998). Perfs are mostly fine, though Koo registers weakest.

Bullets Over Summer

(HONG KONG)

Production: A Brilliant Idea Group production for Mei Ah. (International sales: Mei Ah, Hong Kong.) Produced by Li Kuo-hsing. Executive producer, Joe Ma.

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