As a major trial into corruption and bribery against a major tobacco company teeters on the brink of collapse, ICAC investigator Chan (Lau Ching Wan) tries to save it before it is thrown out of court. Given seven days to bring new evidence to the table, Chan decides to pursue the original whistleblower, Jack Hui (Cheung), who absconded before the trial. Chan’s most important ally is his own estranged wife, Shirley (Lam), and with her assistance Jack Hui is tracked down to a location in Sydney. Yet Hui’s role in the drama isn’t quite as clear-cut as first thought and as other persons involved in the case are killed off, the focus turns on just how involved Hui really is with the allegations of corruption.
The writing and directing team of Felix Chong and Alan Mak return with another slick thriller. Having tackled espionage and law enforcement, ‘Integrity’ goes into corporate murkiness. The result is every bit as slick as viewers have come to expect from the film-makers, but severely lacking in genre staples like tension or excitement.
Not that ‘Integrity’ starts off too badly; a tense court scene, an element of intrigue and the change to an exotic, international location. All of the kind of components that tend to get the viewer dragged in their wake. And so you sit there waiting for it to kick on from such promise and…nothing. Well, slightly more than nothing, but not that much. The following section that takes up most of the film is full of conversations that are supposed to keep you enthralled but allow your interest to drift further and further away. This ultimately means that when there are moments of action or the occasional thrill, they seem so out-of-context that they do not have anywhere near the desired effect.
‘Integrity’ is a disappointing feature with one saving grace: the performances. The triad of main stars are all on solid form though Nick Cheung is given much less to do than his co-stars. Still, Cheung has a quiet, brooding quality that often means more than flowery dialogue. When the stars are bouncing off each other in interesting locations, ‘Integrity’ becomes watchable. Yet this is clearly one of those films that might have looked exciting on paper, but struggles to convey any thrills on screen. The sense of threat is never properly conveyed despite tense music and the supposed twists in the finale seem dropped in cynically for a possible sequel. Mediocre.
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