The Viral Factor is a 2012 Hong Kong action film and another notch on director Dante Lam’s belt and stars The Green Hornet’s Jay Chou. On a mission to protect a scientist who has stolen a copy of the smallpox virus, Sean (Andy On) betrays his team of police officers in order to get the virus so he can mutate it into a biological weapon, develop a vaccine and sell it to a corrupt pharmaceutical company. The failed mission leaves Wan Fei (Jay Chou) injured and his girlfriend (Bai Bing) dead. With two weeks to live, he decides to spend his remaining days with his mother (Elaine Jin) who tells him that he has a long lost brother, Wan Yang (Nicholas Tse) whom she left behind with his father Wan Fei decides to track Wan Yang down in Malaysia but upon arrival, he discovers that Wan Yang has become a wanted felon and is part of the plot orchestrated by Sean.
Pretty much two-thirds of the movie is set in and around the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and is crafted as an electrifying action thriller with nerve-racking tension. The plot can ultimately be as cliché as plenty other action thrillers you have seen before but fortunately, the movie still projects a moving story that discusses about the rivalry and the family-bond of the estranged brothers. But, do not fret, there is action to be had! Fiery blasts from genuine military weaponry and army tanks in Jordan and in Kuala Lumpur you will be amazed by vehicles hurtling down from roof tops, cars crashing into monsoon drains and busy shopping centers.
Like I said, every scene has something blowing up, or someone shooting someone else. In one scene, both Jay Chou and Nicolas Tse’s characters were having a nice brotherly chat when the police interrupts them. With guns flaring and blaring. It’s a messy but exciting movie. The leads Jay Chou & Nicholas Tse, have done a fantastic job and quite possibly have produced their best work yet. But although steeped in show-offy camera work and offbeat bursts of emotion — the roguishly effective Nicholas Tse, as the criminal sibling Chou’s character never knew he had, breaks down in tears not once but twice. Nicholas Tse in my book has grown to be in a different league compared to his “Dragon Tiger Gate” days and character.
Although scaled to match the kind of adrenaline spectacles produced by Hollywood, Lam is clearly working a John Woo vibe here of operatically staged action laced with pumped-up personal stakes. Overall, this is one movie you do not want to miss if you are a fan of things blowing up. In general, the dynamic sound effects keep the viewer perpetually on edge although the story-line was a bit overwrought. The Viral Factor is one the Chinese action movies that deserves to be seen on the big screen.