Review by Michael Jacobson
Chow Yun-Fat, Mark Wahlberg
Director: James Foley
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 14, 1999
The Corruptor was
largely panned by critics during its theatrical run, which is a bit of a shame.
This is one of the few action films that also has a moral issue or two at
its core, and as such, gives you something to think about afterwards.
Itís also an action film with some legitimate drama, other than the
typically forced damsel in distress type love story. Then again, these aspects may have been the problem.
I suppose a lot of action fans might not have cared for the deeper issues
that infiltrate the structure of the picture, and Iím not suggesting I think
all films in this genre should be done this way.
But given what it is, The Corruptor
manages to be a little different in spite of the many available temptations
to be just another copy, and for that, Iím appreciative.
If there is one flaw in the film, itís the fact that for
about the first hour, weíre kept in the dark as to what the real story is
about. It sets up in solidly
familiar territory at first. Danny
Wallace (Wahlberg) is a young white cop assigned to the New York Chinatown beat,
where a serious of Asian gang incidents have erupted. His superior is an experienced cop, Nick Chen (Yun-Fat).
All the cop movie elements are in place.
It could be a buddy movie, or it could be another tough cop shows
tenderfoot rookie the ropes picture. It
seems to be a story without a center. But
donít let it lose you just yet.
Then, the curtain is pulled back, and we finally see what
the root of the story really is. I
wonít give away the surprise, but suffice to say, the film really picks up
from there, as does the action and the drama.
Part of whatís at the root of the movie is the search for moral
absolution, and whether or not it exists. Case
in pointÖas a cop, would you be willing to look the other way from a small
time gambling and prostitute ring in exchange for information that allows you to
clean up the more dangerous gangs, drug dealers, and killers?
Is your primary duty to uphold the law or to keep the streets as safe as
possible, no matter what? Naturally,
you canít answer such questions without thoroughly examining your ideals to
determine if theyíre worth as much as you hoped.
Itís not such an easy thing to say no to, particularly for the veteran
cop whoís fished one too many corpses out of trash bins.
And giving the story credence are two remarkable actors in
Yun-Fat and Wahlberg, both of whom are capable of exemplifying and transcending
the action genre. Asian film fans
are no doubt familiar with Yun-Fatís impressive body of work, including his
teamings with director John Woo, and how he has always been able to bring a
sense of depth and conflict to his characters as they engage in their action.
And Wahlberg proves his breakout in Boogie
Nights was no fluke, as the character in the film who has the most growing
and realization to go through.
But lest I get too wrapped up in the seriousness of the
picture, I should reiterate that it is an action film, first and foremost.
Plenty of loud, two fisted gun play, some good stunt work, and the
greatest car chase sequence Iíve seen since The
French ConnectionÖand one that isnít afraid to address the age old issue
about why innocent bystanders never seem to get hurt in those scenes.
All in all, you could say that itís a bit of a let down from
Yun-Fatís John Woo pictures, but then, you could say that about a lot of
Itís a Platinum Series disc from New LineÖneed I say more? Okay, I will. Spectacular anamorphic transfer, and reference quality throughout. Sharp images, superb coloring, no evidence of compression or grain, even in the many darker scenes. Director Foley seems to compose a lot of images with various color and lighting zones throughout (the lamp shop sequence is a good example). These are where the transfer really shines, as various colors play against each other, as well as zones of lights against darks, and there is no bleeding or loss of image integrity to be found.
It's a Platinum Series disc from New Line...need I say
more? This is an explosive 5.1 soundtrack that's everything you would want
from an action film: dynamic, lots of bass, loud music, and plenty of
multi directional channeling. Sequence after sequence make good use of the
rear stage, with terrific balance and crossover from the front one, and
harnesses the .1 channel to add extra oomph to the explosions, crashes, and
music. An excellent listen.
Itís a Platinum Series disc from New LineÖneed I
sayÖer, okay. This is a fully
loaded disc, including a commentary track by Foley, an extensive documentary
with interviews, behind the scenes footage, marketing information, and even the
great car chase sequence in its uncut and bloodier form.
Thereís also a trailer and a music video, plus considerable extras for
your DVD ROM.
Itís definitely not movie escapism through action, but for fans who donít mind taking on a little extra and having something to stay with them after the experience, The Corruptor satisfies. Itís a good story with appealing leads, and a little play on morality to mix in with the action fun.