Now, when I first heard about this movie, the first thought was "another Infernal Affairs?" It seemed all so easy: you just throw two reputable actors into a thrilling plot, and voila! But once the light goes off, you'd know this is not that classic of the good cop vs bad cop genre, which is not a bad thing by all means.
Fire of Conscience starts with a sequence of seemingly unrelated, motionless scenes to keep the audiences guessing, yet knowing for sure they are somehow linked, for almost the rest of the movie. The question is how. Clever, I thought. And at the end of the movie, it added to my notion that perhaps, the lives of men are predestined and interwoven from the start.
Directed by Dante Lam, whose last movie Beast Stalker I've regretfully only watched recently on cable television, Fire of Conscience delivers realistic, powerful action sequences with a raw energy, that are heart-stopping, but totally necessary to the theme. It also has a plot that has enough twists to keep you engaged, albeit mind-boggling for some.
Both lead actors put up fairly competent performances. For me, Leon Lai, as in his award-winning role in Three (三更), delivered in his usual subdued manner. As Detective Manfred, his anguish on the injustice of never catching the pickpocket who knifed his pregnant wife, only serves to drive him on. To a lesser effect, Richie Ren's Inspector Kee, is another tragic character. He fails to find justice in an elitist system, and pushes the self-destruct button. What is interesting is that Inspector Kee is calm and never desperate, as if he is resigned to his fate, or rather, consciously tied to it.
The tagline on the top of my invite for the movie states:"The fire in one will either inspire or destroy". Indeed, there is a "fire", or a drive in all men to follow his conscience. And that is where the similarity, or our link, begins and ends.