Liu Ye, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, You Yong, Ellen Chan Nga-lun
Director: Ding Sheng
Imagine Forest Gump as a sword-wielding martial artist on a mission to destroy society's wickedness, place him among the colourful German architecture of Qingdao, and you have one of the most unusual heroes to appear on the Chinese screen.
Liu Ye, whose recent performances have been in marked contrast to the freshness he brought to earlier roles, finds in Underdog Knight an ideal opportunity to combine innocence and artifice. He plays a brain-damaged former PLA member, with a black-and-white view of good and evil.
Produced by Wong Jing but with a mainland director and crew, the film has a slightly schizophrenic feel as it careens between character drama and action picture.
In the latter half of the proceedings, the plot evolves into a museum heist masterminded by a Hong Kong gangster (well played, as always, by Anthony Wong Chau-sang) and his ruthless girlfriend (Ellen Chan Nga-lun). They make quite a Bonnie and Clyde pairing, and one almost wishes the entire picture had centred on the duo instead.
There is a huge disconnect between the publicity trailer and the actual feature. The former gives precedence to the star's glistening muscles as he battles the bad guys, leaving an impression that Underdog Knight is a non-stop vigilante-style justice picture leavened with stellar eye candy.
The final product is less action-packed and more introspective, factors that make it a more interesting work but may disappoint a segment of Liu's fan base.