Film Review: ‘G Storm’4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Luk and Ching were working on a Customs corruption case. They found out the case was linked to King, the leader of an international human trafficking group, which also involved Emma Pong, the Chief Justice of South East Asia.
Director: David Lam
Cast: Louis Koo, Julian Cheung, Kevin Cheng, Jessica Hsuan, Bosco Wong
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin dub
Runtime: 93 minutes
If competitive speedrunning was a thing when it comes to filmmaking, G Storm would probably be a record holder in the feature-length action genre. The fifth in the hit-making Storm franchise continues to rely on large-scale shootouts and Louis Koo’s star power to draw audiences, with near-zero concern for anything else. The film completes its tour of all the action genre crowdpleasers with extreme efficiency.
There is always a sense that everyone involved just want to get the film in the can as soon as humanly possible. Everything is delivered in half measures. Its story and characters are paper-thin at best. These, more so than the dated CGI in wide use here, makes G Storm feel like a long-lost Hong Kong thriller we would rent from the DVD store circa 2001. Yet, the film never loses your attention either with its sheer determination to be a satisfying action flick with the least fluff possible.
G Storm centres again on a task force led by William Luk (Louis Koo) in Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. A trip abroad to an unnamed Southeast Asian country (that happens to share Singapore’s skyline) leads Luk to meet Judge Emma Pang (Jessica Hsuan) and the terrorist group determined to kill her. Luk and his team soon uncover links to a human trafficking ring headed by a man called King (Rosyam Nor) who, in turn, serves another shadowy figure.
The film is exceptionally utilitarian. Shot compositions are about as straightforward as cameras allow. Frantic edits push the narrative forward with no worries for awkward cuts and the dizzying pace it brings. Mysteries are solved in record time thanks to Luk’s uncanny detective skills. The film has the depth of an arcade light gun shooter.
G Storm only pauses for a handful of character moments, most of which are deployed onto Luk. Koo is fantastic as usual (he hasn’t aged a day) and it’s a sorely missed opportunity that none of these pauses leads to any worthwhile character arcs. The film does segway into a side-plot of a frayed relationship between two brothers (Kevin Cheng and Bosco Wong) caught on opposite sides of the law, but they are beset by obstacles that are overcome with relative ease.
On the side of the do-gooders, we don’t know them any better than when we first met them. The other side, however, fares much better. Rosyam Nor brings a solid performance as the film’s heavy, King, who walks into rooms with aplomb like the arrival of a final boss. Similarly, Michael Tse, starring as the film’s shadowy mastermind, is delightful with his disguise as an innocuous salaryman.
G Storm is ultimately reduced to a string of shootouts. The dated CGI and the minimal efforts to cloak the use of squibs are only bothersome with how and how often they are used. Characters face gunfights with the same tension found in dodgeball fights; there are only so many times bullets can barely miss the film’s leads before the stakes are diffused. Even when bodies hit the floor, there are efforts to clarify that most are injured and not dead.
G Storm does eventually settle on an impactful conclusion that throws the franchise’s future into question — but by then we are not even completely sure if the dead won’t rise again especially when characters seem like they could care less.
Yet, to its sincere defence, G Storm remains an enjoyable watch. Everything moves by so fast and so efficiently that there are zero opportunities to dig at its flaws prior to its explosive conclusion. Despite being set in the 2010s, the film holds a quaint charm as if its characters are in a parallel world where technology’s progress paused in the 2000s. Smartphones may be featured but their usefulness is about as limited as flip phones. Computers and gadgets feel like they were imagined 20 years ago. How archaic the film’s world feels compared to our own further widen already gaping plot holes.
G Storm is undeniably dated but being old-fashioned has its advantages: zero fluff with guns and explosions doing the majority of talking. Head into G Storm with the same mindset and expectations as you would plopping tokens into an arcade machine of Time Crisis 2 today.
G Storm opens in theatres islandwide tomorrow, 31 December.