September 26, 2011

Filthy Review - The Stool Pigeon

The Stool Pigeon (2010)

Review Jude Felton

The Stool Pigeon, from director Dante Lam, is a tough and uncompromising thriller from the mean streets of Hong Kong. There are no buddy-buddy wisecracks to break up the flow of the movie, just a good honest crime thriller. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though seeing as Asian cinema continues to pump out quality entertainment in just about every genre.

Detective Don Lee, played by Nick Leung, depends on his informants, or stool pigeons, in order to carry out his work. After once such informant falls foul of the crooks he is trying to bust he finds that he is on the lookout for another such character. Racked with guilt over what happened he tries his best to protect his informant, which is not always an easy task. The new stool pigeon is Ghost Jr. (Nicolas Tse), and together they try to work together to bring down the local mob boss.

Although the story is fairly simplistic at its very core there are many more layers to proceedings. These are slowly revealed to the viewer over the course of the movie and only serve to add a greater emotional punch to proceedings. Make no mistake The Stool Pigeon is a dark and at times very violent movie. There are no flashy fight scenes though or Woo-style gunplay, just dirty and gritty violence. When the machetes come out, and they do a few times, you will feel every hack and slash. Gunshots hurt and offer up one of the films “holy shit” moments. This is a film that packs a mean punch.

With all this talk of cops and violence you may be forgiven for thinking that it is a straight out action flick, but rest assured it isn’t. Yes, there is plenty of action for those that seek out that sort of thing, but that is not what drives this movie along. Instead that is left to the strength of the characters on display here. The two leads, Leung and Tse, are both superb in their roles as guilt-ridden cop and criminal. They are the glue that holds the movie together, along with some great supporting turns from the likes of Lunmei Kwai, as the tough girl Dee, and Philip Keung as the terrifying Tai Ping.

Dark, and at times almost depressing, The Stool Pigeon is not a movie that will lift your spirits if you are feeling down. However, even with the tone of the movie it never seemed to lag, and as with all good movies the time just seemed to fly by. It may have gotten just a little melodramatic towards the end, yet not enough to undo all the good work that went before.

The Stool Pigeon really is a terrific movie and one that I recommend not only to fans of Asian cinema or crime thrillers, but to fans of good quality cinema full-stop. I would be very surprised if this doesn’t make my top ten movies of 2011, I really think it is that good.

The Stool Pigeon is released on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and DVD by Well Go USA on September 27th

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