Fire of Conscience has lots of bad cop/worse cop schtick, and shoot outs. It is shot in a very Michael Mann-ish type of direction with cool, suave camera movements. The plot surrounds a down and out cop who lives in his car after losing his wife. His pitiful behavior bring the attention of his superior. He tries to get back on his feet time after time but a case assigned to him leaves him with little choice. Similar to Nicolas Cage’s recent DVD film outing Bad Lieutenant, it is his internal battle with his conscience to uphold the law even as life craps on him.
Fire of Conscience is a pure adrenaline rush, make no mistake about it. It is a film made with real verve and skill. But Lam and writer Jack Ng heap more misfortune on its leads than is probably necessary and draw attention away from the elaborate gun fight scenes. The action scenes are wonderfully staged, while Leon Lai and Richie Jen make for a fascinating pair of complex cops. As with all testosterone charged movement films, many female character development gets pushed to the side.
This film goes beyond the bullets and smoke to explore the people behind the guns. It makes for good plot development while at this same time, when the action hits, you feel more invested in the characters. It scorches the screen and you cling onto your seat as a result. Just as his award-winning “Beast Stalker” and his classic “Beast Cops”, the lead characters in this Dante Lam film are morally ambiguous cops whose sense of right and wrong are questionable.
Don’t be discouraged that the director isn’t trying a new formula. He is indeed reinventing himself film after film after film. We have two hard-boiled cops with two different mind sets. There are passing nods to the stylings of John Woo throughout, while maintaining a street smart authenticity. All in all, this film gets a big recommendation because you don’t know how it will unfold. The ending is lacking but you await anxiously as he unwittingly is about to open a Pandora’s Box that will threaten to compromise the entire Hong Kong Police Force. A must see!