We know very well that, on low-budget films, people have to wear many hats. Hell, my IMDb entry began when a film I was supposed to be helping my wife produce, had an actor drop out. You can only respect those who can turn their hands to multiple jobs. And, yet… There’s a point at which it become self-defeating, because nobody can be good – or even competent – at so many positions.
Shadow of Lotus appears to have set new records in this area, with Jeff L’Heureux having his name listed in the end credits at no fewer than thirty different points, from director to make-up artist. That’s wearing an entire department store’s worth of hats, most apparent in the running time. For this is an 85-minute movie which runs for 124 minutes. L’Heureux the editor desperately needed to have had a word with L’Heureux the director and L’Heureux the writer about that.
There are two crime triads: the Black Lotus and the Red Dragons. Sarah (Vicky Huang) works for the former. But when she attempts to leave the organization, is shot, set ablaze and left for dead [Memo to self: if ever I become an evil overlord, I will not set my enemies on fire within easy rolling reach of the Pacific Ocean…] Naturally, she’s still alive, and comes back to begin disrupting the somewhat precarious plans of her former gang to form an alliance with the Dragons 0 I guess with the goal of forming some kind of super-triad under Gensho Woo (Geoff Wong). In the process, she encounters and subsequently teams up with local cop Claire (Melanie Neale), who has been trying to work things from the legal end. Sarah, needless to say, has no such limitations…..
As noted, this is desperately in need of severe trimming, with hardly a single scene which does not go on for too long. Where not altogether superfluous. This is particularly apparent in the early stages: it feels like an hour before things actually get going, with endless chit-chat between the players that’s blandly uninteresting. Things do improve in the second half. Even if I found myself irrationally irritated by the way Sarah held her gun sidewise, like an amateur gangsta wannabe. The main plus is former colleague Jade (Macalino), who gets the chance to unleash her inner psycho. You could perhaps argue her performance is rampant over-acting. Yet it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to watch. And the film is the poorer for Jade’s eventual departure.
L’Heureux is clearly inspired by, and trying to reproduce, the style of classic Hong Kong cinema from the likes of John Woo. That’s laudable enough an aim. Though the action is competent. It does fall short of these lofty goals, mostly lacking the passion and intensity which Woo’s actors brought to his films. This was never a function of their cost – admittedly, having Chow Yun-Fat was just a slight help to him there. Though in defense of this, it appears to have been the director’s first feature. Plenty of room to improve next time. Especially if he gets the help he needs to avoid spreading himself thinner than margarine on toast.
Following a daring raid on a harbor drug deal, Sarah, an operative of the Black Lotus triad, is betrayed and left for dead by her associates. After several months of recovery she returns to seek revenge against the crime syndicate that attempted her murder. She soon crosses paths with Claire, a young cop with a strong sense of justice and her own reasons for pursuing the triads.
The two form an unlikely partnership to track down Sarah’s betrayers. With the stakes rising, the one-time gangster and former cop find themselves caught in the middle of an all out war between two crime syndicates, with both of their lives on the line.
Director: Jeff L’Heureux
Writer: Jeff L’Heureux
Stars: Vicky Huang, Melanie Neale, Alex Law Produced by Jeff L’Heureux, Emilie Prunier
Genres: Action | Thriller
Country: India Language: Tamil
Release Date: 2016 (USA)