China Lion

The Viral Factor

The Viral Factor

1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5

Comments (0)

The apparent byproduct of watching too much Bad Boys II, The Viral Factor is a cops-and-criminals saga slathered in glossy Michael Bay-isms. Director Dante Lam's story involves a new super-strain of smallpox sought by Sean (Andy Tien), an evil government agent who, in an act of in-mission betrayal, murdered the partner and girlfriend of cohort Jon (Jay Chou) while leaving him with a bullet in his head that will spell death in just two weeks. Rather than sitting in a hospital waiting to die, Jon visits his mom (Elaine Jin), who suddenly informs him that he has a secret older brother, whom Jon soon meets—in one of those only-in-the-movies chance encounters—in the line of duty, since his sibling Yeung (Nicholas Tse) is a notorious wanted thief. Alongside their father (Liu Kai-chi) and Yeung's daughter Champ (Crystal Lee), the two come to an uneasy alliance in order to stop Sean (and his legion of cronies and corrupt cops) from developing the bio-weapon. That generic mission involves rescuing a beautiful doctor before Sean can force her to develop the virus as well as an antidote, which the villain then plans to use, Diabolical Plot 101-style, to sell back to the world at a billion-dollar profit for himself and his featureless European benefactors.

Though feigning Contagion-style concerns about the terrifying threat of genetically engineered plagues, The Viral Factor is a work of little more than repetitive shootouts and overwrought histrionics, the former devoid of excitement or originality, including two virtually identical sub-Heat gunfire-and-car-chase sequences set in crowded city streets, and the latter vainly attempting to lend some emotional heft to the car commercial-slick proceedings. Lurking beneath the film's flashy exterior is an undercurrent about the import of nuclear-family loyalty and stability, all courtesy of Jon's mother's abandonment of her husband and Yeung, but such notions are drowned out by director Lam's incessant explosions, firearm skirmishes, and slow-motion effects, replete with the clichéd-to-the-point-of-parody image of a bullet flying from a gun's chamber toward the screen. Such conventions define The Viral Factor, which for all its noise and motion cares only for stock tropes and devices—including, ultimately, a third act consumed with phony little-girl-in-peril suspense—that are in service of drama that, given every dilemma's obvious upbeat and/or faux-tragic outcome, is nothing more than a transparent put-on.

Buy
DVD
Distributor
China Lion
Runtime
122 min
Rating
NR
Year
2012
Director
Dante Lam
Screenwriter
Dante Lam, Jack Ng
Cast
Jay Chou, Nicholas Tse, Andy Tien, Crystal Lee, Elaine Jin, Liu Kai-chi

From our partners