Sunday, 1 April 2018

Alternate Best Actor 2008: Nicholas Tse in Beast Stalker

Nicholas Tse did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sergeant Tong Fei in Beast Stalker.

Beast Stalker is a mostly ineffective thriller about a cop trying to rescue an attorney's daughter after having previously accidentally killed her other daughter.

Having watched both this film, and director Dante Lam's similar follow up Stool Pigeon it seems he should perhaps return to his more casual, almost Jim Jarmuschesque style of his earlier film Beast Cops, which I had a great deal of affection for. As with "Pigeon", this film bizarrely muddles its plot throughout either failing to create development within the characters or doing it in such a way that dilutes its impact. Both films also suffer from a lifeless central performance by Nick Cheung, this time as a scarred criminal who I would say had some potential as written, but Cheung's approach is one note. It is absolutely baffling that Cheung was the actor to win the best actor prizes for this film when you have the one asset, that Dante Lam should hold onto, that being Nicholas Tse as the primary lead. As with the later film Tse once again is the highlight of the film. This is from the outset just through his incredible charisma as a performer. Tse is engaging frankly even when the plot is not as he just carries such an ease onscreen that it is at the very least easy to follow him through the story, even if the story isn't all that compelling in itself.

Tse has a bit more to work with than just being a needed source of star power for the film. The central story of the Sergeant Tong Fei, in terms of conception, should be a compelling one. We see in the brief opening scenes as confident police detective doing whatever he sees fit to catch the criminals. Tse of course can brim with such confidence and establishes the Sergeant as well as anyone could honestly. The central conceit quickly happens where a car accident intertwines the various characters. Tong Fei's experience within this is particularly traumatic as the confusion leaves him to accidentally kill a young girl the criminals somewhat randomly kidnapped. Tse is terrific in the scene in terms of conveying both the cause, in showing so well the physical confusion of the moment, as well as the grief in his realization. Tse's horrified reaction captures the immediate realization of what the sergeant has done powerfully, even if the film isn't quite sure what to do with this. The film quickly fast forwards past the sergeant dealing with these actions to move onto the story of trying to save sister of the killed he killed as well. I actually think this could theoretically work however neither Lam's script nor his direction is deft enough to realize this approach.

That is not to say that Tse does not give it his all to attempt to make something out of this central idea of the broken and grief stricken detective trying to make things right. Tse has some moving, rushed by the film, moments within there. There is a natural warmth he projects, and effectively realizes that loss of that confidence as he conveys in his eyes that sense of the grief of his previous actions being a constant burden upon him. The film almost seems to purposefully cut away just when something truly remarkable will come from his performance though. It far too often dilutes the focus on Tse to give far too much time to Cheung's story, which I understood what they were going for yet it is completely wasted through his bland portrayal. This sadly diminishes the dramatic thrust of the sergeant's story which in turn diminishes the impact of Tse's work. Tse is consistently good though when he is given the spotlight however it is almost all the more frustrating because of that. I kept waiting for the film to properly devote the time to grant a better insight into the character, but quite simply never gives the character nor Tse the time. Tse has some strong individual moments whether it be a moment of extreme ptsd when in a gunfight, or when he thinks he might have failed the second daughter as well. Tse delivers the raw intensity of these moments, bringing to surface the underlying grief in these moments, that individually are very moving. They are only parts of a problematic whole that always leaves the character's story underdeveloped as the film bizarrely never gets its priorities straight. Nevertheless Nicholas Tse does his best to make what he has work, and he succeeds to a certain extent. Although this still feels wasted in part he does succeed in still breathing a bit of life into the film's proceedings through his charismatic and moving portrayal of an under served character.

76 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Any recent viewings Louis.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your top 5 Jonathan Pryce performances.

Calvin Law said...

What rating would you give Cheung? And honestly, I agree though I liked the film slightly more than you. Cheung is a strangely praised actor (I don't think you'll like his best turn in Unbeatable either frankly Eddie Peng steals the show there), while Tse is sfrangely underrated.

RatedRStar said...

Why did I not suggest Nicholas Tse instead of Daniel Wu for 2004, I am still kicking myself about that, the same Daniel Wu that was supposed to be Andy Laus replacement and look how that turned out.

Nicholas Tse and Eddie Peng (who isn't even from Hong Kong) seem to be the only two young male actors that actually have any talent in Hong Kong what so ever. I wish Tse would start acting again and cool it with his business ventures that he seems to take part in because he is surely missed.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: I would love to see your reaction to Nick Cheung when he trys to be a comedian like when he hosts the HK film awards or does his new year films, because wow, you thought Chapman To was bad lol.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: We forgot about the third actor that is in this film that was also in The Stool Pigeon, what you reckon to him??

Robert MacFarlane said...

Sp the Jesus Christ Superstar NBC thing was actually great.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the screenplay of Breathless.

Matt Mustin said...

Robert: Thoughts on the cast?

Calvin Law said...

Louis: was just watching The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and I was thinking, you reckon Barry Pepper and Tommy Lee Jones would've worked as Dixon and Willoughby in a 2000s Three Billboards?

Bryan L said...

Louis: Which actor(s) would you consider, if any, to be the modern equivalent of Steve McQueen? The only one that comes to mind is Ryan Gosling, since I could see the former as Luke Glanton and The Driver (obviously) back in the 60s.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on both of Tom Hanks's Oscar acceptance speeches.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Speaking of McQueen, he was considered for Peppard and Dreyfuss's roles in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. How do you think he would have fared in those roles?

Calvin Law said...

Apparently the reason he turned down Close Encounters was because he felt he couldn't cry on camera.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I recall you saying that Once Upon a Time in America is flawed, despite being very intriguing as a film. What do you think the film needed to be flawless?

Also, I've read that in the 70's, Leone wanted Gerard Depardieu to play the young Max, Jean Gabin for the older Max, Richard Dreyfuss for the young Noodles and James Cagney for the older Noodles. Thoughts?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you switch Danny Kaye in The Court Jester to 1955 instead of 56. It had a December release in Japan.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your 90s and 2010s cast for Dr Strangelove.

Bryan L said...

Tahmeed: I'd go with Matt Walsh as Colonel Bat Guano for the 2010s.

Calvin Law said...

I'll have a shot at the 2010s cast directed by Armando Iannucci:

Mandrake/Muffley/Strangelove: Simon Pegg
Turgidson: Armie Hammer
Jack D. Ripper: Josh Brolin
Guano: Matt Walsh seems perfect
Kong: Barry Pepper
Sadeski: Mikhail Gorevoy

Calvin Law said...

And while we're at it, a 2010s Lolita directed by Taita Waititi:

Humbert Humbert: Benedict Cumberbatch
Charlotte Haze: Kristen Wiig
Dolores Haze: Olivia Cooke
Clare Quilty: Taika Waititi (I saw Boy Louis and you're right, it's a great film).

Bryan L said...

Calvin: Pegg, Brolin and especially Pepper would be perfect. I think Armie Hammer might be a bit young though. I'd like to see what Patrick Wilson would do with Buck Turgidson.

Jeff Daniels as Buck Turgidson in the 90s.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Pryce:

1. Game of Thrones
2. Brazil
3. Wolf Hall
4. Carrington
5. Taboo

Calvin:

A 2.

That would be a double yes, after all Pepper's Mike Norton is very similar to Dixon.

RatedRStar:

I think I'd rather not see that then.

I thought Liu Kai-chi was pretty good here actually by giving a far more unassuming and low key performance. I felt he was fairly effective in terms of bringing this completely unaffected attitude with the character very much as this working Joe type of law enforcement that stood well as a contrast to the intensity, or attempted intensity, of the other players around. I particularly liked his chemistry with Tse as he found this sort of low key warmth in terms of the man trying to ease any former tensions suggesting the knowledge of the man's trauma. It's a good performance, and I wish the film had been more built around the two of them solving the case together.

Tahmeed:

Well the Philadelphia speech is a legend in its own right, what other speech can proclaim the honor of having a film made around it. Both are in a way "prime" Hanks in just examples of why he is so revered off screen just as he is on. They technically are sort both "thank you" lists for the most part, however he shows it is done as he does it so graciously, with such charm, while also showing in an instance that he genuinely moved by the gesture as well.

Louis Morgan said...

Dr. Strangelove 1990's directed by Peter Weir:

Mandrake/Muffley/Strangelove: Jim Carrey
Turgidson: Billy Bob Thornton
Jack D. Ripper: R. Lee Ermey
Guano: Ed O'Neill
Kong: Stephen Lang
Sadeski: Robbie Coltrane

I'll concur with most of Calvin's choices for 2010, particularly director, though I'd go Michael Shannon for Turgidson (imagine those comedic freakouts), maybe Jeffrey Dean Morgan for Ripper (though Brolin would work), and Walton Goggins for Major Kong.

Anonymous:

McQueen doesn't seem like an obvious choice for either role. I mean he would have been more charismatic than Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's however that isn't exactly what that role needed per se. I'm not sure anyone could have exactly made that role completely work because it was made so vague by the adaptation. McQueen was perhaps right to turn down Close Encounters, not just because of his lack of crying prowess, but because Roy needed to be a man child, casting one of the ultimate Man's men would've been an odd choice. Unless of course he pulled off some amazing against type performance, which I don't believe we ever saw him fail at, but we never saw him attempt it either.

Anonymous:

For the early section: better child performances, Rusty Jacobs as Young Max is pretty good but it goes downhill pretty quickly from there. For the middle section: there just always seems something missing, I still like it a great deal, but never feels like an absolute whole. More than anything I think Patsey and Cockeye could've used more development, and I wonder if the placement of Noodles's escape could have been more effective later on. Pretty much love everything about the late section though.

Cagney and Gabin as the aged gangsters would have been AMAZING. Depardieu would've been at the very least well cast as a young Gabin, and I could see him as Max in general. Dreyfuss again would believable enough as a young Cagney in terms of physical appearance, and isn't incapable of menace however it is definitely outside his usual presence. Given it was Leone though I could potentially see Dreyfuss pulling off his own Fonda as Frank.

Calvin:

Happy to hear you took to Boy.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your current top 20 Game Of Thrones performances.

Anonymous said...

Louis: For a 50's Once Upon A Time in America, how about Douglas as Noodles and maybe Widmark as Max?

Anonymous said...

Really want Ethan Hawke to get his first 5.

Robert MacFarlane said...

*whispers* Upgrade him for Before Sunrise and Boyhood.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I can see him getting a 5 for Before Midnight.

Calvin Law said...

Watched Shot Caller, sheesh, that was not good. Coster-Waldau was decent but I really never quite got the sense of his character's journey (and his accent was a bit iffy), like the ending was fairly powerful but I just felt the film never really earnt it. And the supporting cast was almost uniformly bland/terrible.

I do think a great film could've been made with the material though. I'm just thinking a 1980s version with someone like Jeff Daniels in the lead role would've been quite something.

Calvin Law said...

As for Hawke, I'd love to see him be upgraded to a 5 for Maudie, but any other upgrades or First Reformed I will look forward too, as well.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I can't wait to see First Reformed. :)

Anonymous said...

What's Christoph Waltz's rating on The Zero Theorem?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He's a 4.5, could possibly be reviewed and upgraded during the 2013 bonus round.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and anyone planning on seeing A Quiet Place? or Blockers...

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Maybe A Quiet Place but I'm not seeing Blockers, I just can't stand John Cena inside or outside a Pro Wrestling ring.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I believe it was Roger Ebert who once said that if used/directed effectively, Adam Sandler would be effective in Dennis Hopper roles. Do you agree? Why/why not?

Your top five actors who you didn’t expect to be so good, but proved you wrong.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Mila Kunis in Black Swan.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And Linda Hamilton in The Terminator & Lily James in Baby Driver.

Bryan L said...

Anonymous: I am now trying to picture Sandler as Frank Booth, and I think he could actually pull it off.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your rating and thoughts on Dianne Wiest in Synecdoche, New York?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Before he was cast as Lex Luthor, Clancy Brown actually auditioned to voice Superman in Superman TAS. Thoughts? I think he would have been painfully miscast in the role.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I believe Hamilton's a 4,5 for Terminator 1.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I know that he gave her a 4.5 but she was absent from Louis' Lead Actress top 10 for 84.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Just one last question: How do you think Douglas would have fared in Lancaster's role in The Swimmer?

RatedRStar said...

Baftas announced, Leading actor is a Posthumous nominee, 2 young actors and Sean Bean =D.

RatedRStar said...

Very surprised that Cillian Murphy wasnt nominated for Peaky Blinders.

RatedRStar said...

Funnily enough, the two young actors nominated for lead actor, are in Peaky Blinders lol.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Nice to see BAFTA drop their Anti-Foreign bias for once with Jimmi Simpson's nomination (Lithgow got the nod last year for playing Churchill, A British Icon). 4 nominees per category is still incredibly dumb IMO.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you plan on watching both versions of The Leopard.

Calvin Law said...

I reckon I might try watching that Black Mirror episode tonight.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And when you review Peter O'Toole in Troy, are you gonna watch the theatrical version again or the Director's cut. I've only seen the former but I've read on Wikipedia that Priam is given more character development as well as Odysseus in the Director's cut.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Any winner predictions for Bafta?

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar:
Leading Actress: Keenan (Haven't seen Three Girls or Line Of Duty. Foy's the obvious choice but I don't see them going with a Netflix production and there's usually a stigma awarding shows after the first series. Keenan was rather great though Stephen Graham was best in cast for me)
Leading Actor: Pigott-Smith (I think he's a near guarantee to win though I could see Bean upsetting)
Supporting Actress: Friel
Supporting Actor: Dunbar
Drama Series: Line Of Duty
Single Drama: King Charles III or Murdered For Being Different

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Pretty much in full agreement especially with lead actor, I would love to see Sean Bean finally win an award of some kind since I am sure he will be great as a kind hearted priest but Pigott-Smith has the posthumous advantage, playing a real person which was also Tony nominated as well.

RatedRStar said...

Adrian Dunbar I think is a guarantee for Supporting Actor as well, he is in a very popular show, he is very well respected on tv (he is so great in Ashes to Ashes) and film (he was good in The Crying Game) so he surely has an advanctage

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: He was also very good in The Hollow Crown (2016).

Bryan L said...

2010s No Country for Old Men, directed by S. Craig Zahler

Sheriff Bell: Kurt Russell
Llewelyn Moss: Ben Foster
Anton Chigurh: Matthias Schoenaerts
Carson Wells: Patrick Wilson
Carla Jean: Lily James

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: I'm stealing this from Twitter, but what are some of your favourite uses of the "One f-word in a PG-13" rule?

Anonymous said...

Bryan L: Looking at that cast just made me think of Russell as Marcus Hamilton.

Bryan L said...

Anonymous: I can definitely see why lol.

Louis: Your past film roles for Nicolas Cage, Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Silicon Valley S05E02.
Thought it was an improvement over the premiere.
Also, which actors do you think have a hard time utilising their offscreen charm and charisma onscreen?

Calvin Law said...

I'll give a couple, IMO:

Eddie Redmayne (outside of Fantastic Beasts and The Theory of Everything)
Melissa McCarthy
James Marsden
Orlando Bloom
(outside of Westworld) Thandie Newton

Calvin Law said...

Also, though I haven't seen Silicon Valley, from what I understand Jimmy O. Yang isn't really given much room to work with his considerable comic chops and stand up charisma.

Calvin Law said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkRo5l8679g&feature=youtu.be

Don Quixote trailer (French version) online now. Have to say it looks...interesting.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Really looking forward to it, let's just hope that it'll be released this year. Pryce certainly looks like he'll knock the role out of the park.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Krisch's review coming tonight.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. When we get to the 40's, what year will Louis review first?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: 1948

RatedRStar said...

Louis and Luke: You know my thoughts on the whole " we know what year is next" it would be great to sort of switch it up a bit, you know what I mean, like for example suddenly everyone thought 1957 was gonna be next and in actuality 1938 was then put as next, so it sort of has everyone on their game thinking "ohhh whats gonna be next" , adds a bit of suspense.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Personally, I'd rather stick to the same order. I want 1957 and 1999 very soon.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Also, 1938 doesn't excite me all that much.

What remains of the current set of years is:
1938
1948
1957
1999

Calvin Law said...

Personally, I can't wait till 1958, but 1957 would be cool too. Or any other year, honestly.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: 1958 was the 7th of 10 from the 50s during the alternates.
I look forward to Max Von Sydow in The Magician as well as Quayle in Ice Cold In Alex.

RatedRStar: I don't want to see any radical changes to the order since I have a lot of requests to make and I'll be fuming if a year came unexpected and a performance I wanted to request didn't make it in.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: There's a performance from 1951 that you may want to consider reviewing.
Claude Laydu in Diary Of A Country Priest (Some have called it one of the greatest debut performances of all-time).

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I could see those two working.

Anonymous:

I can agree with the broad idea of that in that Sandler does have that same manic intensity that is an effortless part of their presence. Having said that it would have to be closer to the work where Hopper most directly employs that like in River's Edge, his early westerns work, or maybe even Blue Velvet. I don't him fitting certain roles of his like say Hopper's Tom Ripley though, however it is still good comparison.

Ah I would say there is a clear top five in that I would say if any actor became famous they usually have some quality that can be tapped into by a talented director particularly someone like PTA or David Lynch (unless you're Michael Cera). Jean Claude Van Damme did so, Eric Roberts did so, Sandler did so, Keanu Reeves very much did so. With the exception of Van Damme, the others had something there you could see. Reeves had River's Edge very early on for example, and with someone like Sandler you can see the potential there even in his bad performances.

Omar:

Wiest - 3.5(I will say she is good in portraying first just that unassuming modesty fitting for her character who is just going about her meek existence at first, and then is effective in suddenly realizing this more palatable ego in her more extroverted turn once she takes over a different role. Having said that though I don't think her performance quite makes this contrast as effective as it might have been. She is good, but I think there was some greater potential there unrealized somewhat.)

Anonymous:

Brown obviously has a great voice but he would have been all wrong for Superman.

RatedRStar:

Well deserved nomination for Jimmi Simpson (note: I have only seen that episode of Black Mirror), and I'm glad such a talented yet extremely underrated performer has been recognized somewhere.

Louis Morgan said...


Anonymous:

Although once again I do feel that Douglas is the more consistent actor I do think Lancaster in top form was harder to match. Douglas I think probably would have been good in The Swimmer, however the deconstruction of sort of that masculine confidence I don't think would have had as much of an impact given that even Douglas's most powerful characters usually have some sense of desperation in them.

Luke:

3.5, 4.5, I can simply forget sometimes. 3.5.

Director's Cut

Probably just the version with Lancaster's own vocals.

It will be on soon. The review would have been posted last night but my power went out to be honest.

Bryan:

Cage:

The Joker (strange Cage has never played a comic book villain)
Howard Beale
Cal Trask

Downey:

Chuck Tatum (Ace in the Hole)
Randle McMurphy
J.J. Sefton

Cruise:

Roger Thornhill
The Great Stanton (Nigthmare Alley)
The Cooler King (The Great Escape)

Matt:

Wolverine - X-Men First Class
Things in the future don't even work - Spaceballs(Technically PG, I know)

Tahmeed:

I didn't love the episode, although I hope the final scene will create something new. I always love Matt Ross as Gavin Belson but his story right now feels very much "Looks like Gavin Belson is up to his old trick again.". Again Jian-Yang doesn't feel like a natural replacement for Erlich as he's still very much a one note character, as written, leaving his scenes rather strange. I've seen better Dinesh/Gilfoyle rivalry plots in the past, but I got at least a minor chuckle there. The overarching plot though I don't love as Richard struggling with obnoxious employees, who he could easily just fire, has an inherent problem within it rather in the past he was usually dealing with someone he had to deal with. Certainly didn't hate the episode, but I was more than a little underwhelmed.

Hugh Jackman to a certain extent.
Timothy Olyphant