×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Punished

Hong Kong-action fans will find a measure of reward if insufficient excitement in the Buddhist-flavored thriller "Punished."

With:
With: Anthony Wong, Richie Jen, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Janice Man, Candy Lo, Lam Lei, Jun Kung. (Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue)

Hong Kong-action fans will find a measure of reward if insufficient excitement in the Buddhist-flavored thriller “Punished.” Directed by Law Wing-cheong, this well-constructed pic carries Johnnie To’s imprimatur as producer and stars a tough-looking Anthony Wong as a hard-nosed property developer belligerently dealing with the demands of his daughter’s kidnappers. A keystone offering at Hong Kong’s fest in March, this respectable effort will generate respectable B.O. on local commercial release in mid-April, and fare well internationally with the usual genre-fest suspects, before a solid life in ancillary.

Employing an elaborate flashback/flash-forward structure, the pic first shows business tycoon Wong Ho-chiu (Anthony Wong) in the middle of a Bolivian salt flat contemplating the beautiful surroundings, before leaping backward to Wong’s discovery that his darling daughter Daisy (Janice Man) is dead. Narrative then rolls yet further back to reveal that the innocent daughter was a nasty, spendthrift coke addict who hated her stepmother and fought tooth and nail with her authoritarian father.

Demonstrating the same level of uncaring brutality whether he’s dealing with his children or conservation-minded protesters trying to stop his latest property development, Wong is a temper-prone tyrant, and grueling company as a protag. Feared by family and enemies alike, Wong’s only trusted companion is his faithful bodyguard, Yao (Richie Jen), who acts as Wong’s eyes and ears and is eager to take action when Daisy is kidnapped. The story is relatively straightforward, but its clever structure gets plenty of tense mileage out of the scenario, despite the fact the outcome is apparent from the outset.

Law’s solid track record as an editor (“PTU,” “Running on Karma”) and previous experience as a director (“Running Out of Time 2”) enable him to serve up the pic’s sudden turns and maximize surprise from the hidden pockets of the script’s origami-like structure. But while a shoot-’em-up in a scaffolding warehouse reps a highlight, most action sequences nevertheless feel more like padding than elements growing organically out of the plot.

Jen seems too subdued as the loyal bodyguard, but Wong cranks his patented intensity up to 11 and tops it off with a raging burn. Man’s wild child is just the right side of a teenage cartoon, and Maggie Cheung Ho-yee gives a believable and endearing perf as the understanding wife and super-tolerant stepmom.

Tech credits meet Hong Kong industry standards.

Popular on Variety

Punished

Hong Kong

Production: A Media Asia Distribution release of a Media Asia Films presentation of a Milkyway Image production. (International sales: Media Asia, Hong Kong.) Produced by Johnnie To. Executive producer, John Chong. Directed by Law Wing-cheong. Screenplay, Fung Chih-chiang, Lam Fung.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Ko Chiu-lam; editor, Pang Ching-hei; music, Chung Chi-wing; production designer, Jackson Ha; art director, Raymond Chan; action director, Jack Wong; sound (Dolby Digital). Reviewed at Hong Kong Filmart, March 23, 2011. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Anthony Wong, Richie Jen, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Janice Man, Candy Lo, Lam Lei, Jun Kung. (Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue)

More Film

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Boosting Efforts in Project Development Amid Agency Standoff

    The Writers Guild of America, locked in a six-month standoff with major talent agencies, has announced that it’s boosting efforts at gathering TV, streaming and film project development data to help members find new employment opportunities. The WGA made the disclosure in a message to members on Monday. The guild directed its 15,000 members to fire [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    AFI Fest Adds 'The Two Popes,' 'Aeronauts,' Alan Pakula Tribute

    The American Film Institute has added “The Two Popes” and “The Aeronauts” as galas during the upcoming AFI Fest along with a tribute to the late director Alan Pakula. AFI had previously announced that the romantic drama “Queen & Slim” would launch the 33rd annual festival on Nov. 14 and close with the world premiere [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Recalls Husband Blake Edwards' Battle With Depression

    The line to see Julie Andrews at the 92nd Street Y wrapped around the square of a sprawling New York City block. Seventy years since the start of her career, 60 since she asked “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Lerner and Loewe’s first Eliza and 50 since she sang “The Sound of Music” before the [...]

  • Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) in Columbia Pictures'

    Vin Diesel Comes Back to Life in 'Bloodshot' Trailer

    Vin Diesel is coming back again and again in Sony Pictures’ first trailer for “Bloodshot.” In the forthcoming superhero adventure, Diesel portrays Ray Garrison a.k.a. Bloodshot, a soldier who gets rebuilt by a corporation following his death. The clip, released Monday and scored to Johnny Cash’s rendition of the ballad “Memories are Made of This,” [...]

  • Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders'

    Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders' Director Tim Mielants on 'Wise Blood'

    Bouli Lanners, the Belgian actor-director of “The Giants” and “Eldorado,” is teaming with “Peaky Blinders” helmer Tim Mielants to direct “Wise Blood,” an English-language film that will star “Game of Thrones” actor Michelle Fairley and Julian Glover. “Wise Blood” is a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production between Versus Production, Barry Crerar, and Playtime, which will handle international sales [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills to Co-Produce SAG Awards

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions have joined the SAG Awards producing team. The guild announced this morning that Kathy Connell will once again serve as the show’s producer along with Hayes and Milliner in partnership with Avalon Harbor. “Attending the SAG Awards has always been a pleasure and a privilege for me,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content