Length: 119 minutes
Director: Rao Xiaozhi
Cast: Andy Lau, Xiao Yang, Wan Qian
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Release date: 12 February 2021 (Singapore)
3 out of 5 stars
Endgame illustrates a comical twist of fate between an unsuccessful and hopeless actor Chen Xiaomeng (Xiao Yang) and a professional assassin Zhou Quan (Andy Lau). One day, Xiaomeng accidentally causes Zhou Quan to slip and fall, thus losing his memory. Thinking this is a chance for him to start over, Xiaomeng switches identity with the amnesiac Zhou Quan, only to be impeded by his complicated assassin duties.
On the other hand, Zhou Quan believes that he is the failed actor and begins to fix his life with the help of a single mother Li Xiang (Wan Qian). As the bond between the two deepens, Zhou Quan gradually regains his memories. At the same time, Zhou Quan’s client is getting infuriated with an undone job.
A remake of Japanese film Key Of Life, which stars Masato Sakai and Teruyuki Kagawa, Endgame similarly features hotshots Andy Lau and Xiao Yang. Andy Lau’s portrayals of an assassin and an innocent-looking actor are the highlights of the movie. The assassin is suave, speaks with a firmer tone and has a sharp look in his eyes. The actor, though, has a softer appearance with puppy-like eyes and speaks gently with a tinge of gloominess. Endgame presents a rare opportunity to see Andy Lau’s nuanced acting, a contrast between a helpless character and a cool-looking one.
Although Endgame is a comedy drama, it is not as hilarious and light-hearted as expected. Rather, it has a slow-moving plot sewed together with some funny episodes. The best joke is perhaps when Li Xiang asks the amnesiac Zhou Quan how old he is, and while referencing Xiaomeng’s belongings, he replies 32 — Andy Lau is turning 60 this year.
Much screen time is given to build the relationship between Zhou Quan and Li Xiang. In one scene, Zhou Quan jots down in his notebook — as a way to help him remember his past — that Li Xiang is a friend-turned-someone-he-likes. Even though it is apparent they have mutual feelings, it becomes confusing when the two have an air of awkwardness after Li Xiang kisses Zhou Quan. It feels as if this relationship conflict is forcefully added in, which does not help the plot, but instead makes it worse.
In addition, it takes quite some time before Zhou Quan regains his memories, which is also the tipping point where the story progresses faster. At this point, the plot becomes nonsensical with major incidents happening due to trivial misunderstandings. Perhaps this part of the story is meant to be a comedic plot twist, but it is not well executed.
The ending could have made the character of Xiaomeng more dynamic too. However, he remains as a useless failure throughout the movie. The scene where Xiaomeng pretends to be a murderer is so compelling, but the story just has to ruin it. It would be so encouraging to see a supposed good-for-nothing finally succeeding at something.
Although Endgame is not the best movie to watch this Chinese New Year, Andy Lau’s performance still does not disappoint.
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