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Film Review: L Storm (2018; Dir. David Lam) - ICAC Thriller Genre Makes Hong Kong Film Great Again

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of L STORM (2018; Dir. David Lam). ©Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of L STORM (2018; Dir. David Lam). ©Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited

L Storm (2018; L風暴) is part of Independent Commission Against Corruption (廉政公署, ICAC) trilogy. There are prequels of this film, Z Storm (2014) and S Storm (2016) which created by the director David Lam. ICAC anti-corruption movie genre is firmly made in Hong Kong via this trilogy.

David Lam (林德祿) actually had worked for ICAC from 1980 to 1986. And his descriptions of ICAC operations are so real in detail. There is no one in Hong Kong can exceed or replace him on this ICAC topic.

The story is simple and clear enough for any one that is a Fugitive type of story. However its topic is money laundering by Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese mafias. And the protagonist is set up by them, and countering the false accusation of being a corrupted officer by caching up the mafias with secret support from police and Chinese Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Hong Liang.

The protagonist, chief investigator of ICAC, William Luk which played by the most talented actor of Hong Kong of today, Louis Koo (古天樂). He looks like Japanese actor Ken Matsudaira and best fit the positive image of an investigative bureaucrat. Hong Kong actors are trained as kung fu star to the certain extent. Luis Koo is also able to conduct kung fu and gun action sequences. Its true quality is something US and Japanese actors cannot achieve.

FILE PHOTO: Promotion of L STORM (2018; Dir. David Lam). ©Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited
FILE PHOTO: Promotion of L STORM (2018; Dir. David Lam). ©Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited

This film is clearly made for creating and reflecting an ideal image of cooperation among ICAC, Hong Kong police and Chinese Anti-Corruption Bureau. And We can see the mafia bank logo is similar to Public Bank Berhad which is suspected to have a certain connection with mafias in reality. There is nothing negative without one point in the entire story structure.

The con is that when Ching Tak-ming which played by Kevin Cheng and its ICAC's L Team (Internal Disciplinary Investigation Team) come to save trapped and tortured William Lok, it is seemed to be jumped between deleted or missed scenes. There is no visual scene shows that how William Lok survives the electric shock torture conducted by mafias on the cruiser.

However, some exciting montage is car chase sequence when William Luk and Eva Ng (Stephy Tang) escape from ICAC's L Team. Some cutaways were shot under the driving car in high speed motion. It is unusual, and its de-familiarization is quite effective to create a tight mood in minimal shots due to its specialities of shooting method.

In general, its artistically high quality of film construction makes this film a classical one. It is hard to find any con in the entire film.

This is one of successful Hong Kong-Mainland China film cooperation, and it is actually a quality work which should be complemented by audiences.

A good genre film like this makes Hong Kong film great again!


Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to the professional film writer Ryota Nakanishi as author and a link to is provided.

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