A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.

When love becomes labored we welcome an act of infidelity towards ourselves to free us from fidelity

Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Title
Inside or Outside (2016)
Also known as
There is Only One Truth
Genre
Action, Crime, Thriller
Written by
 Zhong Muxuan
Directed by
Gary Mak
Starring
Simon Yam, Wallace Huo, Jang Hyuk, Rayza, Che Xiao
Country of Origin
China
Running Time
109 minutes 

oh! … brief

Successful fairy-tale writer Nan Fang is looking for reassurance following the birth of their child because of Ou Jian. Her husband is cold towards her and the new baby. Maybe her husband doesn’t really love her and only married her because of her father’s wealth? Maybe her husband is having an affair? Unsure of what to do, she employs the services of a former retired police sergeant, Fei Xin, and his partner, Qui Le, also a former policeman who was expelled from the police force, to investigate.

This is not the only problem for Ou Jian, his former business partner, Xie Tianyou, resurfaces with a grudge following his release from prison. Ou Jian testified against him at trial and that testimony sent Xie Tianyou to prison.

oh! … talks film

The only reason I decided to watch this film was that my absolute favourite South Korean male actor stars in it, but I wasn’t disappointed. This film was good and it was pleasing to see Jang Hyuk expanding his acting horizons and breaking into the Chinese industry alongside another of my favourite Chinese male actors, Wallace Huo!

Screenplay writer, Zhong Mu Xuan (Veronica) crafted an elaborate detective mystery, placing significant emphasis on a psychological element. Using what can only be described as the Barnum effect as a main source of suspense in the film, Zhong Mu Xuan showed wisdom beyond her young years.

I’m always emphasizing the importance of the screenplay or script for a production and I’m always right. If a production has a solid basis to work from (the screenplay in this case), then it makes it far easier for the director to capture the essence of the narrative in a visual rendition. But, if a screenplay or script is weak it makes it significantly harder for the director to deliver successfully and even more frustrating for the cast. Fortunately, the screenplay for this production was well-researched and well-written, just the ending was far weaker than I expected.

It’s a fairly simple tale. A woman suspects her husband of having an affair because he no longer loves her or pays attention to her or their newborn child. At the same time, the husband is keeping his distance because he suspects that his wife has been unfaithful and that the new child is not theirs. Private detectives are employed to iron out the details and catch the guilty party in the act. However, Zhong Mu Xuan adds a few twists to the plot and heightens the suspense by adding to a third party.

Zhong Mu Xuan did a good job creating this fast-paced and quickly moving story with its multiple narrative threads. It kind of feels like a spider bouncing around the various threads of its cobweb in an attempt to capture something tasty for dinner! Zhong Mu Xuan’s planning of her twists and laying them out within the screenplay at interesting moments plays tricks on the minds of audience members and keeps the attention riveted for the most part. It’s very smartly laid out, but at the same time, I had a distinct sense that something wasn’t quite on point with the screenplay.

And once again, I was right … the strands and threads in the cobweb don’t seem to stay together and the story which starts out strong and fast-paced doesn’t end as well as it began. Perhaps this was Zhong Mu Xuan’ intended purpose, a way for her to show us how random coincidence can be the sum of appearance, put into motion by fate? You get to decide for yourself if you venture to watch this film.

Gary Mak, who is director of this film, delivers a precise visual narrative for the screenplay. He manages to capture the attention of the audience and hold it for the most part. Maybe because the actors are such handsome men, or the women are eye-catching in their beauty, or maybe it’s just because Gary Mak is successful at filmography? Whichever you choose, poise yourself to watch one of the best flashbacks acted out like a silent movie that I’ve seen come out of the Chinese film industry? Or perhaps take in a graphic prison fight with the potent atmosphere? Or maybe settle for the bizarre visit to an abandoned amusement park to buy an unregistered gun? And if that isn’t enough to hold your attention then maybe Gary Mak’s additional humour will whether it comes from the ridiculous nicknames a Chinese gang gives themselves or the detective duo’s dog that chows down on cat food, or the sheer absurdity of a detective and a criminal sharing the EXACT same physical features and tone of voice, the humour is definitely as visual as it is narrated through lines written by the screenplay writer.

Visually the wardrobe was stunning in true Chinese style. Jang Hyuk’s character stood out with tailored suits and shades. But this time, Wallace Huo and Simon Yam gave him a run for the money in the looks department! I know, I’m biased when it comes to Jang Hyuk. I can find little fault in his acting, physique, or charming good looks but when he stands next to Wallace Huo, it’s hard not to compare the two! Wallace cut a dashing figure too only heightened by the flashy cars that his and Simon Yam’s character drives around in.

If the stylish wardrobe wasn’t enough, then the musical score that accompanied just added to a well-rounded film. Including the theme song, “Inside or Outside” sung by Aska Yang and the Ending theme, “The Truth” sung by Dai Baojing and Aisa Senda who also makes a cameo appearance as Tang Shan, the soundtrack is a fair body of work.

The cast is interesting and they do a good job with their performances.

Nan Fang is played by Rayza and she did a fair job with her performance, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by her acting that 1. She suspected her husband of cheating and 2. That she really believed her best friend was cheating on her husband. Her acting was just slightly flat.

Simon Yam as Fei Xin, the retired police sergeant who always remained cool, calm, collected and had superior intelligence was just amazing. Of course, he’s a professional with a prolific background in acting and producing films. I appreciated Simon Yam’s interpretation of his character and how he delivered his performance. It was solid! I especially like the scenes where you could almost see the hamster spinning on its wheel inside his head as he analyzed the information and scenery around him to draw a conclusion. His acting skills may even be superior to Jang Hyuk’s — okay I am kidding!

Wallace Huo took on two roles for this film. Firstly, he was Qiu Le, the police officer expelled from the force for his hot temper. In this role, he was as Wallace Huo can only be— a remarkable actor who gives his best and offers his fans a perfect performance. I relished in his crazy outburst and the anger just oozing from beneath his skin. Wallace Huo was fabulous in this role. The second role for Wallace Huo was as Xie Tianyou, Ou Jian’s former business partner and hacker extraordinaire. He was equally good in this role, but I found it hard to differentiate between the two because the intent was both would look, act and be the same. Wallace did a superb job in both roles!

Saving the best for last? Of course! Ou Jian, software designer, CFO of an IT company and on the cover of Time Magazine is the husband who is suspected of being a philanderer. Jang Hyuk never ceases to amaze me. I’ve seen him take on so many different roles and simply become the character he is assigned. No less effort for this film either. Jang Hyuk was Ou Jian, there was no room to tell anything other than this. As is usual for Jang Hyuk, he used every ounce of his skill set and acting abilities to deliver Ou Jian’s quirkiness. It was interesting though to see this role with a character that sometimes appears to be scared of his shadow! That’s something new for Jang Hyuk and another character that he can add to his ever-growing portfolio. He sure doesn’t get type-cast because he brings something unique to every role. He breathes life into his characters and gives them their own personality and behaviour. I wish I could see more of him, more frequently.

oh! … sidekicks

Supporting cast members include a performance by Che Xiao who plays Shen Jiamei, Nan Fang’s best friend and the woman she accuses of having an affair with her husband. Che Xiao gave a solid and stunning performance even while the role was minor. I enjoyed the chemistry shared between Che Xiao’s and Jang Hyuk’s characters. There was definitely something there to be suspicious of. Perhaps Che Xiao should have had a bigger role and perhaps one with more scenes where there were opportunities to misconstrue the situation. That would have been fun!

Another South Korean actor was also part of the cast. Han Ji-Seok played as a South Korean gang leader and did a solid job.

oh! … that’s a wrap

To be perfectly frank, I was neither here nor there with this film. I enjoyed it but at the same time wasn’t over the moon with the overall production. It was entertaining and fun with a strong screenplay and visually aesthetic. Even the acting was good. And I did find the story clever. Simon Yam gave the best performance, but his character had stronger writing and more room for development.

You’ll enjoy this show if you’re into action, crime, suspense, thriller genres. It’s not likely that I would watch this again although I do recommend it as something to pass the time if you need some mindless entertainment that doesn’t require absolute attention.

Be warned, the conclusion is not strong, but enjoy the eye candy if you do decide to pick this to watch.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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