Eye in the Sky- -
The head of an elite Hong Kong surveillance unit (Simon Yam) keeps one eye on his rookie apprentice (Kate Tsui) and the other on a notorious criminal (Tony Leung Ka Fai) he suspects of masterminding a recent jewel heist in this tense thriller from filmmaking duo Johnnie To and Nai-Hoi Yau. Of course, the criminal knows all along he's being watched. But that doesn't stop him from trying to pull off the biggest score of his career.
Established scriptwriter Yau Nai-hoi makes an assured directorial debut with Eye In The Sky, a novel and lively thriller based around the Hong Kong police force’s Surveillance Unit.
The shadowy team is called into action when a gang of thieves robs a downtown jewellery store and early investigators reveal the daily routine of one of the culprits. Armed with CCTV snaps and details on the man’s typical payments, all recorded by Hong Kong’s ubiquitous transport and shopping smart cards, the Surveillance Unit soon finds its mark and locates the rest of the gang. Normally the group’s work is over at this point – merely support players in law enforcement, the team usually recedes into the background before an arrest is made – but it’s clear there’s a hidden mastermind directing the robbers, and the trackers must continue to sniff out his trail.
A key member of the screenwriting team at acclaimed production house Milkyway Image, Yau contributed scripts for the likes of A Hero Never Dies, Running on Karma and PTU before assuming the director’s role. Yau’s behind-the-scenes pedigree affords Eye In The Sky far more than just the thrill of the chase as he fleshes out details. Following a new recruit (Kate Tsui) into the team, a cold detachment from regular crime fighting and the suppression of even the most basic emotions are shown as major forces to adjust to. The team itself is tightly knit, yet operates anonymously from a nondescript, bogus office with code names used among each other from field leader Dog-head (Simon Yam) down. Clever flourishes come in the other side of the law, too, with thieves having to go about their work under ever-present surveillance and information-age tracking, and requiring the command of a shrewd ringleader (Tony Leung Kar-fai) that’s up to speed with the police’s tricks of the trade.
Coming under the supervision of co-producer Johnnie To, Eye In The Sky draws on the regulars of his Milkyway Image movies for its cast plus a fresh new face. Simon Yam scores an image overhaul and a paunch, posing as an everyday pedestrian but wielding the job’s requisite photographic memory. Tony Leung Kar-fai makes for an offbeat adversary as the composed and enigmatic Shan, a crime figure appearing to know more than many about how to keep a step ahead of the cops, and harbouring a short-fused violent streak. Kate Tsui rounds out the leads in her debut film role and is constantly engaging as the new agent code named Piggy, her character thrown into the thick of the hunt and learning to cope with its pressures. Supporting actors including Maggie Siu, Lam Suet and Eddie Cheung add to the appeal, each balancing Eye In The Sky’s agile crossover of tension and entertainment.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival