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The New Option

     "Stop touching me!"

promotional stills from The New Option

Chinese: 飛虎雄師  
Year: 2002  
Director: Confusion Reigns*
Exec. Dir: Gary Mak
Asst. Dir: Pinky Yau, Chow Kin-Kei
Producer: Wong Jing, Gordon Chan Car-Seung
Cast: Michael Wong Mun-Tak, Shawn Yue, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, Patrick Tam Yiu-Man, Osman Hung Chi-Kit, Otto Wong Chi-On, Eddie Peng Wai-On, Eric Tse Hoi-Wing, Suki Kwan Sau-Mei, Tiffany Lee Lung-Yi, Bill Lee, Joe Cheung Man-Kwong, Carlo Nanni, Dennis Chan Kwok-San
The Skinny: A new entry in the SDU flicks which began with Gordon Chan's lauded The Final Option. For awhile, this movie looks like it could be an average, but decently enjoyable entry into the Cop Soap Opera genre. Then IT ALL GOES TO HELL.
 
Review
by Kozo:

No actual director is credited to this new entry in the SDU series which began with Gordon Chan's The Final Option. Titled The New Option, it stars Michael Wong as Stone Wong, an SDU captain who's a damn man at his job. This is probably not the same Stone Wong from The Final Option, because that Stone Wong was younger and is now dead. However, both Stones are no-nonsense SDU trainers who must initiate young studs into their SDU world. The latest young stud: Shawn Yue of Just One Look and Infernal Affairs.

Yue is Jackie Law, a member of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau. He first meets Stone Wong when the SDU show up on a botched raid led by he and partner Hon Kin (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin). Despite the fact that the screw up makes him look bad, Jackie enlists in the SDU as it's always been his dream. He has SDU posters on his walls, and toy SDU guns in his toy gunracks. He is also seemingly more capable and intelligent than the average SDU recruit, most of which are played by members of the Hong Kong band EO2. Sadly, such individualism is frowned up on in the SDU, which doesn't make him popular with Stone (though his teammates seem to like him). Yu also feels ostracized by his former OCTB teammates, who think he's abandoning them. Meanwhile, Stone has issues with his young recruits acting like tough guys, and an evil bastard played by Patrick Tam begins planning a daring theft.

The bread-and-butter of the "Option" films is a decided attention to minutiae. Past films have featured lots of procedure, authentic-looking action and attitude, and much attention paid to the characters' personal lives. The New Option accomplishes some of that with a mundane romantic subplot between Michael Wong and Suki Kwan (as the OCTB's new chief), and obligatory moments like introducing the various stock characters. On the procedure side, there's some talk about the role of the sniper (Jackie longs to be the team sniper), and the revelation that the SDU pretty much does nothing but train and wait 98% of the time. Maybe being in the SDU means you're the "best of the best", but it can be more boring than exciting.

The film could be seen as boring than exciting too, but there are small positives. Shawn Yue is a bland, but serviceable lead, and the action (whatever little there is) is routine. Furthermore, the presence of Michael Wong actually helps matters. He's still an uninteresting actor, but his lightweight presence has become such a fixture of these films that it's practically welcome to see him. He still mixes his English and Cantonese from beginning to end, but at least none of his lines are as bad as the classic one from First Option ("Rick was a good man. Seduced by the dark side, he was."). For awhile, The New Option looks like it could be average stuff that's no better or worse than Andrew Lau's 1996 flick Best of the Best.

Then it all goes straight to hell. Jackie experiences a serious case of dementia, which causes trouble at the office. We learn the secret to Jackie's acute crimefighting skills, which is bumping into the bad guys while wandering around town. Furthermore, he becomes enamored of his buddy's girlfriend (new singer Tiffany Lee) and begins leaving her creepy phone messages. Meanwhile, Patrick Tam and his band of bad guys start to bicker incessantly. Tam is supposed to be one of those suave, dangerously intelligent bad guys, but he looks like an idiot for surrounding himself with such moronic comrades. And to top it all off, all the bad guys employ the English/Cantonese language which is usually the sole territory of Michael Wong. By the time one of the bad guys begins calling Stone out, you have to ask yourself: what the hell is going on?

Well, no one person took credit as the film's director, which could be an indication of what went on. There's an executive producer (Gordon Chan), a "presenter" (Wong Jing), an executive director and two assistant directors. It looks like the accountability has been spread out, thus ensuring that no one person could be blamed for this lazy Hong Kong movie. If you want a measure of how poorly made this film is, look no further than the film's length. The actual movie clocks in at just above eighty minutes, whereupon the filmmakers pad the film an extra five minutes by recapping the whole thing in a music video montage! In film school, such egregious technique would earn you bad marks and the derision of your peers. The New Option pretty much goes nowhere, and confirms what most of us probably already know: it's a bad idea to make a movie in just a week. (Kozo 2003)

 
Notes:

• The identity of this film's director is a confusing issue, compounded by the fact that the film itself does not have a listed director credit. The Hong Kong Movie Database lists the director as Clarence Fok Yiu-Leung, while City Entertainment Magazine maintains that Gordon Chan Car-Seung was the director. Internet forums have floated the idea that Wong Jing actually directed the film. Popular opinion could care less.
  Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
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