STUDIO: Vivendi Entertainment
MSRP: $14.99
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

  • Production featurettes

The Pitch

It’s Hong Kong crime noir…with some fire.

The Humans

Director: Dante Lam, Leon Lai, Richie Ren, Baoqiang Wang, Vivian Hsu, Kai Chi Liu, Michelle Ye, Kai Tan

The Nutshell

A veteran and gritty Hong Kong cop, Capt. Manfred (Lai) finds himself and his team embroiled in a series of crimes that center around an elusive killer and arms dealer, Blade (Kai Tan), who is planning a major heist of drugs.  Manfred finds his case crossing paths with that of a younger, more slick (and also ruthless) and upwardly mobile cop, Kee (Ren), who has his owns agendas.  While on the job, Manfred is also tortured by the recent murder of his pregnant wife by a pickpocket, whom he’s been combing the streets to find.  As a member of his team has his own issues with a murdered hooker, Manfred, Kee and the police strive to get to the heart of a violent crime spree by Blade and his associates, unaware that one of their number is a mole involved with him.

"So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye?!?! So you think you can love me and leave me to die?!?!"...

The Lowdown

This is a solid, well shot and surprisingly intricate Hong Kong crime noir from director Dante Lam, whose work I definitely need to explore more.  Lam has put together quite an involved story here with frequent collaborator, screenwriter, Wai Lun Ng.  There’s a lot going on in FOC, not all of it always easy to keep up with.  In fact I had to go back for a partial rewatch to get all the players straight.  Once I did, I realized that FOC was heading towards Heat territory in terms of side stories and characterization.  That’s not to say that this film is on the level of that film, but it is a worthy kindred spirit if you will.  Lam stages several very realistic shootouts and explosions in the heart of the city in some impressive setpieces.

"Sir, we've got to find The Killer." "We will, Cheung-on, We will. He can't escape us forever." "No, my copy of 'The Killer'. It's overdue at Red Box..."

Performances all around are good, with Lai and Ren leading the way.  Of the two, Ren caught me more with the nuance to his character, who by far is the most complicated.  Ren is working a couple of angles, trying to deal with police corruption and also with negatives that a relationship with a former triad moll is bringing to his career, occasi0nally working both sides of the moral street himself.  Manfred is quite a bit more cut and dry in that his only two obsessions are being a good cop and finding his wife’s killer.  The latter of which has him so ass out that he’s been sleeping in his car for two months rather than return to their home.  His facial grooming has also suffered a bit from the experience.  The story takes a couple of twists and turns without losing cohesion and overall Fire of Conscience is a good pickup if you like Hong Kong crime films.

I’ve checked out several Indomina titles this year (Detective Dee, Clash, True Legend, Outcast and Devil’s Playground) and liked what I’ve seen for the most part.

The Package

The video looks great, as Lam has captured the very heart of the streets of Hong Kong.  Audio is fine in Cantonese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English subtitles.  English is in Stereo, but as is typical, the English voice dubbing is terrible.  Read the movie with the Cantonese on.  You’ll enjoy it better.  There are several production featurettes centering on Leon Lai, Richie Ren, the cast and director that average about five minutes each.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars