Helmed by celebrated director Patrick Tam after a 17-year sabbatical, one can't help but wonder if he was a bit rusty as he brought this story to life. We intrude on the unhappy family of Chow (Aaron Kwok), a small-town stir-fry chef with a gambling problem who has trouble providing for his common-law wife Ling (Charlie Young) and their ten-year old son Boy (King-to Ng). In fact, Ling is packing to leave as the film begins, and when Chow catches her he gives her a bit of a beating to whip her back into shape. Boy is suitably traumatized and longs only for a calm home.
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In its clever introduction, Infernal Affairs presents a triad boss who assembles a band of kids from his gang to infiltrate the Hong Kong police academy - this is a criminal with an unusually long-range vision. Years later, the principals come into focus: there's the undercover cop, Yan (Tony Leung), struggling with his identity after so many years as a fake criminal, and the highly-placed internal affairs officer, Ming (Andy Lau), who turns out to be one of the triad moles. Throwing another loop into the plot is the fact that the triad Yan has infiltrated is the same one Ming is working for, each one knowing that there is a double agent on the opposite side (which is actually their side), whom they have been assigned by their respective bosses to root out.
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Aside from Rush Hour 2, The Accidental Spy is Chan's only film from 2001, and while the star is slowing down, so are his films. The tepid Rush Hour series notwithstanding, Chan's action scenes are a little less extreme than in the past, with longer exposition sequences between them, and with fewer gags to break the tedium. Squirting lotion in a bad guy's face is about as funny as it gets here.
Continue reading: The Accidental Spy Review