Natural Disaster

The story is series of double-crosses and plot twists, in which everybody is revealed to be betraying (or pretending to betray) everybody else; by the time we are two-thirds through, it's close to impossible to figure out just who each character is working for ... or to what end. And, even if we can figure it out, there's no reason to assume there isn't another reversal coming.

The net effect of this sort of plotting is that the viewer becomes weary. All the twists tend to neutralize each other, and we no longer care who is on what side. In this way, The Corruptor makes an interesting comparison to Hard-Boiled, the last of Chow's Hong Kong films with Woo, to which it bears a superficial plot resemblance: In Hard-Boiled, there is one major plot revelation, relatively early on, on which the remainder of the film builds emotionally; in The Corruptor, there are so many to-and-fro twists that we are never allowed to develop clear feelings for either of the major characters.

Wahlberg is well cast and excellent throughout, as is Ric Young as the unctuous bad guy. But The Corruptor is primarily Chow's show. He plays yet another sort of character that Cary Grant also excelled at -- a charmer who keeps us continually guessing whether he is hero or villain. The main difference is that Chow gives both sides of his character a manic intensity that was never part of Grant's shtick.

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-- Andy Klein

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