Film & DVD Review
A professional assassin was hit and the bullet was lodged in his brain. He does not know how much longer he is going to live. With nothing to lose, he joins 3 robbers in robbing banks, as he finds some excitement in the high pressure atmosphere. A cop who has totally lost confidence since he accidently killed another cop is assigned to investigate the robbery cases. In a direct confrontation, what will happen...?
Color of Pain is an Hong Kong action flick which caught me rather pleasantly by surprise. Featuring no really big names in the line up, Sam Lee is probably the actor I'm most familiar with out of the cast. However, I've never really known him for his action abilities, more his serious acting and comedic roles, so I was quite intrigued to see how Color of Pain would turn out.
"With this mask on, no-one will ever recognise me!"
The film is mainly about Ryuya (Kenya Sawada), a Japanese assassin who gets seriously injured in an contract killing in Hong Kong. The injury was a bullet to his head, but it did not kill him. Realising that he is exceptionally lucky to be alive, he starts to embrace life more, loses any fear of death and just wants thrill and excitement. Being unable to leave Hong Kong as the bullet would set off the metal detectors, and he would subsequently have to explain how it got there, he sets up home in HK.
"I really hate this door. Shooting it will make me happy!"
Being well trained, and keen of eye, one day he notices a small group of suspicious looking guys going into a bank, and he knows it is going to be a robbery. Sensing some excitment, he calmly walks into the bank, and offers himself as a hostage when the group are leaving. At their end destination, he quickly overpowers them, and explains how he wants to join them robbing banks, not for the money, but for the feeling that he gets from it. The three robbers, all reluctant at first, in the end do agree to his involvement. Ryuya's involvement with these three is only one half of the main plot.
"Hey! I can see the pub from here!"
The other half is concerned with Officer Cheung, a young policeman who used to be a sniper on the force. One day during a hostage situation he was given the order to shoot the guy doing the hold up, despite him having a hostage, who happened to be a female police officer, infront of him. Cheung shot, but the guy moved and the bullet hit and killed the female police officer - something which he cannot get over, and the memory of it plagues him daily. He is re-assigned to a new group with the specific task of tracking down the bank robbers. In an undercover assignment he encounters Ryuya, not knowing at that point that he is now one of the robbers, or the hostage taken in the last robbery. Through circumstances, the two end up in a high speed car race through the city streets, and infront of an on coming train. The experience bonds the two men, and they become friends.
"Now, where the hell did that table go?"
However, one of the groups planned bank robberies does not go according to plan, and in an impromptu robbery somewhere else a police officer is killed and another injured. To make matters worse for the original three robbers, Ryuya decides that he wants the money after all - something which does not go down well with them. By doing this, Ryuya not only has the police after him, but also he three former accomplises...
Pretty crap plot summary all that, but it'll have to do. Anyway, what are my thoughts on the film? Well I quite liked it. There was a decent enough story, if a little cliched and done loads of times before, and it was well performed by all involved. The action set pieces, be it fighting or gun fights, were all ok, but nothing special. The fights had clearly been undercranked, which was a little off putting, as had the car race scene. But it was the story and the emotions portrayed and felt by the characters which gives the film its biggest boost.
"20 paces... bet you can't shoot me!"
At times you do really feel for the characters, Ryuya and Officer Cheung in particular, and this can only be creditted to fine acting on both their parts. However, the film is ruined by a couple of really cheesy or far too convenient scenes. The meeting of Ryuya and the three robbers in the sauna baths place at first was cringe-worthily cheesy, and the scene where Officer Cheung accepts what he has done in the past and proves that he is able to move on really is far too convenient, making the coincidence slightly unbelievable! There are also a few other scenes in the film which I thought were rather pointless, as they don't seem to show anything of importance. Anyway that aside, the rest of the film does pretty well.
While there are no elements to Color of Pain which are really special, the combination of all the ok elements, good acting by the cast, and the story all combine better that you would expect, to give a film which is a decent watch, and one which you probably will be quite glad to have seen. It is not great, but it is entertaining nonetheless.
Audio & Subtitles
Audio wise there is a choice of the original soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1, or a Mandarin dub in DD2.0. I obvisouly went for the original soundtrack, and in DTS, as this is supposed to be better than DD. Anyway, the original soundtrack is quite a colourful one langauge wise. There is Thai (I think), English, Cantonese and Japanese spoken throughout the film, often several different langauges in one conversation!! That is completely irrelevant as far as the quality goes, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. On the DTS track, most of the sound comes from the front centre speaker. There are some instances where sound is placed around the others speakers, but really not that many. It mainly occurs when there are gun-fights going on, when someone shots towards the camera, you hear the bullet move to the back speakers. It is also used in the short car chase scene. Other than that a few ambient effects are placed round, birds singing etc., so the surround speakers are used sparingly, but when they are used it is to good effect.
"Shut it! Or I'll put the gun at your head! "
All the voices and effects are perfectly audible. Granted some of the accents when the actors are speaking english are a bit mumbled at times, but that is not the fault of the soundtrack! All in all, perfectly decent track.
The subtitles are pretty good too. There are a few grammar and spelling errors in the text, which is a shame, and the dialogue in english is also subtitled. This lets you see that the subs have been simplified a little, as they don't match word for word what is being spoken. If this is the case with the english dialogue, then I can only assume that the other languages have also been dumbed down a little with the subs. There is also some text in the film which is not subtitled. It is not really critical to the film's plot, so it isn't that bad, but it would have been nice to have had it subbed. Anyway, the font is the nice bold white with a black border, and they are positioned over the film print.
The film print is as good as you would expect really. Color of Pain is a recent film, being a 2001 production, so you wouldn't expect that much degradation in the film print. There are small speckles quite frequently through the film, but they are small and, fortunately, not that off putting. Colour levels are ok, but nothing being that vibrant and full of life. Blacks are quite black, but possibly not as deep as they could have been. Fortunately, though, shadow detail is good. I didn't notice that much grainyness to the print in any place, so that's a plus, but I did notice that in some scenes the top left corner of the print was rounded off (as shown in a couple of the screen grabs). Don't know if this was a problem with the matting or what, but while not off putting, it is still something that the print could have done without. Detail was ok in the foreground, but soft in the background.
"Oh dear... this is not good!"
DVD & Extras
With regards to extras Color of Pain is a rarity. Usually with Universe you get the standard trailer, other films' trailers, and star files. With this, though, you get absolutely nothing. So zero points here!
Overall, Color of Pain is competent film. Nothing about is that special, but it tells a decent, if cliched, story, and the action is not bad. There are scenes which are a little too cheesy, or too convientently placed, which for me ruins it a little. Regardless, it is a film that is well worth a look.
"At half twelve, I'm going to kick your ass mate..."
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