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逆我者死 (1999)
Never Compromise

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 02/16/2013
Summary: Eyes open.

Wow. This reviewer thinks that Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are writing film reviews here. Bosco Lam is a Hong Kong original. All of his film offer unique perspective and visuals. If you can find this movie, check it out.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 06/15/2011

Bosco Lam's directorial trip down the roughly cobbled lane of Hong Kong B-movies has had a few notable entries, such as Underground Banker, but most of them have been clunkers like 1999's Never Compromise. From beginning to end, this is low-budget film-making at its' lowest zenith, simultaneously boring the audience and squandering the talents of most everyone involved in the production, especially Francis Ng and Yu Rong-Guang.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 06/04/2008

“Never Compromise” begins with the murder of seven people by an out of control psychopathic criminal. Francis Ng makes it clear that Brother Bill enjoys the agony of his bound and gagged victims, kneeling before him in a circle and able to use only their eyes and body language to beg for mercy. This is not a spoiler—the slaughter occurs shortly after the opening credits finish rolling. The movie can’t overcome this structural flaw—it has nowhere to go but down after this grotesquely violent opening and never really engages the audience. It is as if Donizetti had started “Lucia di Lammermoor” with staggering out of the bridal chamber covered in her husband’s blood or if Puccini had put Cio-Cio San’s suicide in Act I, Scene I. Some dramatists paint themselves into a corner—Bosco Lam blew up the paint factory.

The rest of the movie is divided into parallel sets of action. We see how the bad guys—Brother Bill and Brother Sing—got to the point of this brutal crime through a series of flashbacks while the good guys—Mainland cop Officer Tung, his preternaturally wise boss, the retiring police commissioner and his smarmy but effective nemesis, an Interpol cop assigned to the case—try to overcome their internal bickering to identify and capture them. Nothing can make us empathize with Brother Bill, of course. No matter what horrors were perpetrated on him as a child—and whatever they were, the movie did a poor job of showing them—he has become a completely repulsive and frightening individual, a poster boy for death penalty advocates. Brother Sing, underplayed to the point of somnolence by Simon Loui, is weak and completely in Bill’s thrall. This artist’s occasional tendency to sleepwalk through roles is on full display here.

The trio on the side of law and order, those defending the People’s Republic from the depredations of vicious criminals from Hong Kong—a point that relentlessly hammered home—are just dull amalgams of bickering cops from countless cop/buddy movies. Officer Tung is relentless, humorless and given to burst of rage; the Interpol officer annoys him by speaking English, by wanting to use scientific policing methods to get information instead of beating it out of suspects and by his general demeanor. The Commissioner is the eminence gris who hovers over them, making enigmatic statements while feeding his goldfish and encouraging them to play nicely together. They are a lackluster bunch, uninteresting to each other and to the audience.

The real theme of the movie, and one that is stated constantly and clearly, is the importance of capital punishment as a weapon to fight crime. There were references from both sides on the inevitability of execution once Bill and Sing were caught by the PRC police after showing and commenting on an earlier crime in Hong Kong where Bill was given twelve years in prison for killing a policeman during a robbery.

Nothing to recommend

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: David Harris
Date: 04/18/2001

Here is the second of this issue's film to star Francis Ng - this isn't a prison film though but rather a movie that focuses on a cop's hunt for a serial killer. Director Bosco Lam does - as do many of Hong Kong's less well connected directors - a pretty good job with what is obviously a rather meagre budget. Whilst having had an uneven career he has directed a couple of Category III classics - one minor (Anthony Wong's "The Underground Banker") and one major ("A Chinese Torture Chamber Story").

Does Francis Ng play the cop? No in something of a change of pace he plays the serial killer (and with great relish too). Simon Lui may not be familiar name to you if you don't inhabit the budget realm of Hong Kong films but you may just recognise the face - he has previously starred with Francis Ng in the at least relatively recent (late 1990's) film "24 Hour Ghost Story" which was about a haunted convenience store. The cop is played by Yu Rong Kwong who is a suitably stoic contrast to the intensity of Brother Bill (Francis Ng) and the comparatively quiet Shing (Simon Lui).

The story concerns the murders of seven people at the Kei Fook Estate in mainland China and the subsequent police investigation (whilst Shing is an accomplice it is Brother Bill that commits all seven killings). Afterwards they decide to attempt a robbery but are caught for that robbery and sentenced to jail for 12 years and upon release again consider robbery as a career option - with Brother Bill very much forcing the issue - but the Hong Kong police are keeping a close eye on them so they return to the mainland to "work" there.

This film is very much more successful in its depiction of the relationship between Brother Bill and Shing than it is in the police investigations into their activities. This is perhaps due to the film's two best actors playing those roles - both guys are well accustomed to playing characters that are a little special (major euphemism) and that experience shows in their performances. The other performances are more than adequate but they are overshadowed by the two leads which is probably the way it should be all things considered.

It is left to the cops to lighten the tone of the film now and again with a little humour or rather a little attempted humour. The need for comic relief in a film like this is both understandable and needed but it is a shame that this element of the film doesn't really work at all because if it did it would help to provide an effective counter to the big murder scene of the film which is unexpectedly brutal. This is an OK film and is certainly worth seeing if you happen to like cop and or serial killer movies but like a lot of the lower budget films that are being made in Hong Kong these days it doesn't often rise above the level of average.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 02/26/2000
Summary: A watchable distraction, nothing more.

Not a lot to be said for this cheapy. Direction ranges from unimaginative to rather poor, not too surprising looking at Bosco Lam's undistinguished record. Francis Ng's acting crosses the line into self-parody here with what can only be described as the sinister side of mugging. The film's greatest expense was probably the cost of the film stock. And yet... It kept me awake. I never got too bored or fidgety. So if you do for some reason watch this movie, you're not in for anything painful, but then I can't recommned actually paying money to see it, either.

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 01/06/2000
Summary: Not a Good Compromise ...

While we thought that "The Young Ones" would be the BIG-Mandarin circuit's last movie for its first year of operation, suddenly "Never Compromise" arrives at the end of the year. The movie stars performers who have been in a lot of movies during 1999 like Francis NG Chun-yu and Simon LOUI Yu-yeung. For Simon LOUI, "Never Comromise" is important to his career since he has landed a starring role alongside Francis NG. Director Bosco LAM is well accustomed to this sort of assignment, directing a movie based on a serial murder.

"Never Compromise" is a movie about the murders of seven people at Kei Fook Estate on mainland China. Nearing retirement, Officer LEE (Joe CHEUNG Tung-cho) is assigned to investigate the case. The seven victims come from a single family, and evidence suggests that the killing was done in a very professional manner. In fact, the crime was committed by two men, Brother Bill (Francis NG Chun-yu) and Shing (Simon LOUI Yu-yeung). Twelve years before Bill and Shing illegally immigrated to Hong Kong in hopes of making money. They decided to attempt a robbery, but they were eventually caught by the police and sent to prison for 12 years. After being released, the two consider another robbery. However, as the Hong Kong police are closely monitoring them, they go back to the mainland for their "projects" . . .

The plot of the film is ambitious as it uses flashbacks to present the character of Brother Bill as well as to describe the friendship between Bill and Shing. This approach of using flashbacks is common in these types of crime stories. For the part showing the friendship between Bill and Shing, however, the movie does not have anything impressive for audience to remember. Nonetheless it is still able to describe the change in their friendship. The filmmakers and Francis Ng are most successful in presenting the nuances of Brother Bill's character.

In addition to the portrayal of the murderers, the investigation of the case is also a vital element for the film. Unfortunately, here the movie falls short. The filmmakers use conflict between Officer LEE's subordinate and an Interpol representative to set up a partnership as well as be a source of comic relief. However, with pointless and artificial dialogue, the relationship between these two characters is very annoying. Perhaps Officer LEE's character could have been used better as a good source to compare how difficult the Kei Fook case was compared with others, but the his role is wasted.

Francis NG Chung-yu and Simon LOUI Yu-yeung do a good job in the movie. Since the two actors are familiar with portraying these crazy sorts of roles from time to time, they know what they are doing and how to present their characters. However, the downside is that they don't have the opportunity to surprise the audience with anything new. One may wonder if audiences will be satisfied with seeing them repeat previous performances.

In short, "Never Compromise" is a crime drama concerning the murder of seven individuals from the mainland. The movie is able to describe adequately the characters of the criminals, but it is unable to present successfully the investigation process.

Written by Ryan Law from Hong Kong Movie DataBase on 3 January 2000.