Final Justice 最後判決 (1997) Review

Perhaps the lesser-known Milkyway film released during the 90s, Derek Chiu’s Final Justice <最後判決> combines a potentially thought-provoking drama with pitch-black comedy undertones about a Catholic priest (Lau Ching-Wan’s Father Li Chi-Ho) finds himself in hot water when a woman named Donna (Almen Wong) accused him of raping her.

The movie also introduced Kim (Eric Tsang), a childhood friend of Father Li and a triad kingpin who helps getting him a top lawyer played by Carman Lee.

Derek Chiu (1996’s The Log <三個受傷的警察>), working from Lu Bing and John Chan Kin-Chung’s script, tries to have it both ways: a cross between erotically-charged and courtroom dramas between the two halves of the movie. The movie also attempts to incorporate black comedy in the form of Eric Tsang’s mercurial and quirky turn as the triad kingpin Kim — among the earliest staples that would later become one of Milkyway’s obligatory characters. It wants to get symbolic as well — both literally and figuratively — complete with moral underpinnings related to the likes of guilt, redemption and forgiveness.

And yet, everything here can only muster a halfhearted attempt on the aforementioned genre mishmash. The movie suffers from an erratic pace while Derek Chiu’s overall direction is uneven but still deserves credit for assembling a good cast all around, beginning with Lau Ching-Wan’s perfectly restrained performance as the guilt-ridden priest trying to make things right while Almen Wong does an excellent job playing an emotionally-unstable femme fatale character. Then, there’s Carman Lee, whose no-nonsense role of a lawyer in charge of defending Father Li easily among her best performances to date.

It’s just too bad the solid cast alone can’t overcome much of the movie’s glaring weaknesses. Coupled with Raymond Wong’s heavily intrusive score and a disappointingly muted and anticlimactic ending, Final Justice <最後判決> is pretty much of a missed opportunity that could have been a better result.


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