30 Years Later: Organized Crime & Triad Bureau 重案實錄O記 (1994)

Between 1993 and 1994, Kirk Wong directed a trilogy of crime thrillers inspired by the actual cases including Crime Story <重案組>, Organized Crime & Triad Bureau <重案實錄O記> and Rock N’Roll Cop <省港一號通緝犯>.

The second film of the trilogy is more in line with Wong’s gritty direction, unlike the creative clashes of two different tones seen in the otherwise gripping Crime Story <重案組> due to Jackie Chan’s reportedly hands-on involvement both onscreen and behind the cameras.

By contrast, Wong has a firm grasp over Organized Crime & Triad Bureau <重案實錄O記>, allowing him to fulfil his bleak tone of the crime thriller genre. But the plot, written by Lu Bing (in his feature-length screenwriting debut), feels like an extended third act stretched to a 90-minute length as Wong wastes no time going straight for the jugular. We learn that Inspector Lee (Danny Lee) and his OCTB team (among them played by Fan Siu-Wong) are on a manhunt to apprehend the notorious gang of robbers led by Ho Kin-Tung (Anthony Wong) and his mistress, Cindy (Cecilia Yip). It was essentially a chase movie about cops vs criminals, and we learn nothing about Lee’s dogged pursuit other than his dedication as a police officer.

Anthony Wong and Cecilia Yip in "Organized Crime & Triad Bureau" (1994)

And yet, Lee still does a good job playing the kind of cop who doesn’t play by the rules as long as he manages to catch the criminals. Beneath the energetic pacing and bare-bones storyline, Wong doesn’t neglect the character development revolving around Tung and Cindy. There’s a pivotal flashback moment about Cindy’s dark past and how she first met Tung. Tung, in the meantime, may have been a violent criminal who wouldn’t bat an eye killing police officers. But he does show a sense of compassion, particularly during a scene in the operating room.

It also helps that Anthony Wong and Cecilia Yip play their respective roles well and they are among the reasons that elevated the otherwise typical cops vs criminal movie.

Technically speaking, the action choreography is appropriately less stylised than the one seen in Crime Story <重案組>. The gunfights are mostly visceral and chaotic, even though a scene where Lee and Tung slide down the hilly slope while shooting at each other looks as if it belongs to a John Woo film.

The climactic finale is easily the best part of the movie — a daylight shootout in the middle of the busy Hong Kong streets, which was reportedly filmed on the long stretch of Wan Chai’s Lockhart Road in a guerilla style. Wong even went as far as insisting not to have a road closure to shoot the scene. This gives the shootout between the cops and the criminals a much-needed matter-of-fact realism, complete with the civilians’ genuine reactions who passed by the streets at the time. Interestingly, Wong’s guerilla filmmaking style required him to send out the crew to be his eyes and ears in case of police interference.

For all the efforts seen in Organized Crime & Triad Bureau <重案實錄O記>, the movie could only muster HK$8 million at the box office — a far cry from the HK$27.4 million-grossing (though still underperformed) Crime Story <重案組>. Look out for then-24-year-old and yes, pre-tanned (!) Louis Koo in his film debut playing a small role as one of Tung’s men. Anthony Wong would reunite with Kirk Wong again in Rock N’Roll Cop <省港一號通緝犯> a few months later as a lead police inspector.

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