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Andrew Lau is representative of the very strange breed of Hongkong filmmakers who got a certain fame for being rather ruthlessly stylish and brutal in their films, and by influencing European and American directors with their overtly visual style. To me, these guys are notorious for hiding their lack of stringent story-telling behind recurring episodes with leg-cringing brutality, and usually produce rather forgettable merchanidse, not attributable to a specific director, but rather to the genre of “modern HongKong style”.
And “The Flock”? Has an impressive set of well-known actors that you are kind of surprised to see here – but clearly being the result of this HongKong reputation leading to some producers and agents expecting another John Woo phenomenon to be around the corner (the John Woo of Face Off fame, that is, not of the other nonsense he has done in the US). That’s a good bonus to get started, working with an eerily slim and exhausted Richard Gere and a very fragile and slightly dispaced-looking Clare Danes. When you get down to the story, it is confusingly thin, so that you keep wondering what twist is around the corner to make it worth all the fuzz. Nothing, however, is around the corner, apart from more and more “quotes” from high-concept genre films: Seven, Silence of the Lambs in particular, but also – as some IMDB reviewers have pointed out – a general X-Files setting about all of it. The final is really embarassing in it even trying to replicate Brad Pitt’s every movement from the final scene in Seven, but without the high-tension builidup to the scene it just falls flat on the face.
The most interesting question is whether Andrew Lau will get another chance after this first US effort that did, I understand, not just go out without a bang at the box office, but that even very few reviewers cared to pay attention at.

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