Z Storm (2014)
When a police superintendent's wife turns up at the ICAC to report that her husband came home one day with unexplained bags full of cash, Louis Koo and his earnest team of anti-corruption cops begin an investigation into his activities, including his association with a wealthy philanthropist and his hedge fund. The hedge fund is due to open on the public stock exchange in just seven days, and a well publicised multi-billion dollar investment from the Hong Kong government itself is persuading many a citizen that the fund is a solid and safe place for their savings. The bags of cash and beautiful prostitutes that seem to keep turning up around officials associated with the IPO suggests that it might not, in fact, be entirely on the level though.
Z STORM is a basically competent if unexceptional thriller with some bizarrely conspicuous flag-waving for the ICAC, with cast members all but turning to the camera to assure the viewer that "Wherever there is corruption, there is the ICAC" on more than one occasion. Perhaps the Hong Kong public really needed to be reassured about this in 2014, I don't know. Apparently 2014 was the 40th anniversary of the ICAC's inception, and this film feels kind of like a promotional film made to celebrate its birthday. As far as I can tell they didn't actually fund it, though.
The film manages to tick most of the boxes a financial techno-thriller needs to tick, but it puts in the minimum amount of effort to do so and rarely rises above "adequate", with a few scenes that are just outright bad. There's very little in the way of style, and the whole film has a rather dour atmosphere, as if nobody involved with the production really wanted to be there, or cared enough to do more than the minimum required of them on set. One possible exception is Michael Wong, who seems to be quite enjoying himself playing a Michael Wong caricature - at least he seems to recognise that it's all a bit silly.
The production values and general direction give the film something of the feel of an episode of a network TV show, or a low budget direct to cable film. I guess audiences must have liked the film though, as it seems to have four sequels already!