Full Alert: ”You had a lot to say about the first time you killed. So, what’s it like killing the second guy?

Year: 1997
Directed by Ringo Lam
Produced by Ringo Lam
Written by Sammy Lau and Ringo Lam
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Francis Ng, Amanda Lee, Monica Chan, and Jack Kao

After police arrest, a dangerous criminal then throws him in jail. The police suspect that he and his gang may be planning a high stakes heist.

Full Alert does sound a tad bit generic and there is no denying that it kind of is. Ringo Lam’s directing style plus his fondness for the gritty does turn a generic script into more of a substantial thriller. You won’t find any overblown shootouts here. Most of the serious tensions arise more out of the mind games that the criminals played against the police. Full Alert is, at heart, a striking mind game between Pao and Mak Kwan. Sean Lau and Francis Ng true to their veteran status as actors, turn in two great dramatic performances. Pao and Mak Kwan are haunted by killings they have committed. Full Alert treats every death importantly. Deaths don’t occur willy-nilly to increase a body count to satisfy action purists. Each death affects the narrative. There is still a satisfying and blood pumping chase scene. The beats of the plot are a bit run of the mill and cliched. The characters in the hands of Ringo Lam’s direction are able to be more than cardboard cutouts and act more like they’re flesh and blood.
Full Alert is a double feature that is a great heist film and a psychological thriller rolled into one. It is straightforward and is paced wonderfully, but with the added depth that is so Ringo Lam in taste and quality.

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