“The Beast Stalker”, directed by Dante Lam (“Sniper”), is a cop thriller following a series of characters tied up in an incident that resulted in the accidental death of a little girl. Pained by guilt and seeking redemption, Sergeant Tong (Nicholas Tse) relentlessly attempts to save her sister who was kidnapped by a hitman with one eye (Nick Cheung) who wants to use her as leverage against her mother (Jingchu Zhang), an attorney who's prosecuting a known criminal. It’s all connected, you see.
The action sequences are intense and the film moves at a very fast pace. It’s comes across as fun action flick and a very accessible thriller. It’s hardly a stretch that a movie like this could very easily end up being remade in the US (much like “Infernal Affairs” was adapted into “The Departed”). It employs frequent use of the ever popular shaky cam, which was pretty much a mandatory feature after the second “Bourne” movie. Luckily the story, despite its many characters, is easy to follow.
The only issues in this film that may turn off some of the more observant viewers are the distractingly implausible details that pop up. For instance, it's made very clear from his introduction that the hitman is blind in one eye and the sight in his remaining eye is quickly fading; in fact he's even colorblind in that eye. So for the big climax, Tong attempts to protect the little girl while fighting off the hitman in some kind of underground labyrinthine sewer system. It's so dark down there that the audience can barely see the characters.
So why is it that the hitman has the upper hand? His visual impairment is in no way an advantage. I mean, this guy can barely navigate his apartment. His ability to see anything down there is a stretch, let alone he somehow being better equipped for the environment; he manages to get the drop on Tong as if being nearly blind somehow makes one capable of navigating dark places. Remember, he struggles with his vision by day. This is not a man suited to the dark.
There are a few other instances of the story being improbable just to move along the plot. We get a scene where Tong searches through a dozen garbage bags at a dump (in the dark no less) and manages to find a (very small) clue when he was not even sure what to look for. That's either insane luck or just lazy writing.
Instances like this aside, the movie’s not a bad one. Some of the action sequences, like the chase scene about half way in, are pretty spectacular and rely on little or no special effects. They also manages give every character believable motivation as well as depth. The acting is also very solid across the board.
One of the film’s major themes is causality and it manages to tie up every character into one major incident seamlessly and flawlessly. You really get the sense that everything that happens in the film is the result of this one event that basically causes a domino effect for every scene after. Needless to say the ending is quite satisfying. It's a definite recommendation for any fan of Hong Kong action films.