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Wild Search
cast: Chow Yun-fat, Cherie Chung, Tommy Wong, Roy Cheung, and Paul Chun

producer and director: Ringo Lam

98 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Hong Kong Classics DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Rob Marshall
A laudable remake of Peter Weir's first American film, Witness (1985), this is one of the few Hong Kong made thrillers seen on national TV in Britain. It stars Asian movie idol Chow Yun-fat as detective sergeant Lau, alias Mew Mew, on the trail of murderous gunrunners.
   Unlike Weir's mostly serious romantic drama, Wild Search has an endearing undercurrent of humour, but that's not the only difference. Instead of the witness being a young boy, here it's four-year-old Ka-Ka, a cute girl orphaned when the bad guys kill her mother, Elaine - who was hosting a meeting for illegal arms dealers when shooting broke out. Now, the girl's aunty Cher (Cherie Chung) is forced to take care of the tot, while cops hover around to offer protection while getting involved in the bereaved family's on-going domestic struggles, which are caused by rural poverty and by the harassment of Cher's estranged husband.
   There's sharp-suited menace in the form of cocaine-snorting gangster Hung (played with a suitably oily charisma by Paul Chun), and a vicious hitman known as Bullet (Roy Cheung), but the film primarily concerns the realistically low-key romance between cop Lau and the troubled Cher. This leads to episodes in both the city - a visit to police headquarters for the perusal of mugshots, and violent confrontations (including the fiery finale) at Cher's farming family homestead.
   Wild Search is less flashy than other crime films by director Ringo Lam, yet it's distinguished by compelling performances from the main cast, and an engagingly mature attitude to the romantic subplot that eschews the obviously music-linked soap opera passions that characterised, and in my view spoilt, Weir's original.
   DVD extras: trailer, biographies and filmographies of stars and director, plus a stills gallery.