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Chinese language cinema

The Leakers film review: Herman Yau’s frenetic crime thriller hops between Malaysia and Hong Kong

Francis Ng, Chairmaine Sheh and Julian Cheung star in a pulsating story of jaded cops, investigative journalists, a duelling family and a secret group of international hackers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 6:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 10:33am

3.5/5 stars

For a storyteller as prolific as Herman Yau Lai-to, this is a slow year – 2018 is nearly half gone and we’re only now seeing his first new release, The Leakers. Last year the Hong Kong director wrapped four very different films – the police thriller Shock Wave , extreme horror The Sleep Curse , romcom 77 Heartbreaks and ghost story anthology Always Be with You .

The Leakers is nothing if not ambitious: a highly contagious disease with a terrifying fatality rate is intentionally released into the wilds of Malaysia, thereby bringing together eminent investigative journalists, jaded cops from two jurisdictions, a duelling family atop a pharmaceutical empire and even a secret international hacker group with obscure objectives.

Among its protagonists are award-winning journalist Carly Yuen (Charmaine Sheh Sze-man), soon-to-marry Malaysian police inspector Lee Weng-kan (Julian Cheung Chi-lam), soon-to-divorce Hong Kong cop Wong Dai-wai (Francis Ng Chun-yu) and tycoon Teo Jit Sin (Kent Cheng Jak-si), whose company has come up with a new drug just when his two adult sons are respectively kidnapped and found dead.

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Car chases and shoot-outs pepper a narrative that revolves around Teo’s missing son (Wildred Lau Ho-lung). Yet the genius of Yau’s crime thriller lies in the fact that, even though the identities of the disease spreader and the hacker leader are predictable, it nevertheless keeps you engaged throughout, and resists casting any of its characters as the hero of the tale.

While its screenplay, by Erica Li Man and Eric Lee Sing, who co-scripted Yau’s The Legend Is Born – Ip Man and The Sleep Curse, is always busy, The Leakers makes few profound statements about its subjects – corporate malpractice, and the social function of truthful reporting.

It more than makes up for this, though, with a twisty and relentlessly frenetic narrative that rarely fails to entertain.

The Leakers opens on June 21

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