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驚天大賊王 (1998)
Operation Billionaires

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 08/18/2006
Summary: a bit of a mess...

based on the true story of hong kong kidnapper cheung tze-keung, despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the film; his role goes to simon yam and his name gets changed to cheung chi-ho.

cheung is an affluent, nice guy (he loves his mum), kidnapper who abducts the children of wealthy business men. things are pretty simple for cheung; his kidnappings go smoothly, no-one gets hurt and he gets his cash. the victims seem uninterested in the hassle of pressing charges, but the police are still annoyed with cheung, as he's pulled the wool over their eyes one too many times.

cheung befriends cyclone (berg ng), a bit of a psycho, but a gangster who bonds with the aimiable cheung. the pair become partners, but things go awry when cheung's right-hand man, slut hung (patrick tam), gets caught having sex with cyclone's right-hand man's girlfriend (sherming yiu).

now, this film is only just 80 minutes long, everything just seems to be getting ready to kick-off, but it all just kinda fizzles out. it seems to want to include some sex and violence, but it remains quite restrained; a bad idea in hindsight. it's watchable, but not particularly great.

a damp squib...

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/20/2006
Summary: 3/10 - largely pointless

Simon Yam is a super-nice guy who happens to be a master criminal. He and his gang kidnap the son of a wealthy businessman and demand 1 billion dollars (HK) ransom. The businessman pays and they let his son go (yes, it's that easy). For some reason, the police don't want to let the matter go that easily though.

Simon Yam's acting is pretty good, and there are some cuties in the cast, but this can't save a boring story directed without any particular style or flair from being a dull experience. The story has zero depth and only just passes on logical coherence, but most crucially it fails to capitalise on any of its potentially interesting scenarios with actually compelling or enjoyable scenes (well, there are one or two). It all leads nowhere particularly interesting, and it's not a lot of fun getting there. The film is watchable, but I would say it's largely pointless to do so.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 11/01/2005

Unlike America, where "true crime" films are often regulated to movie-of-the-week TV trash status, in Hong Kong many of them get theatrical releases, often right after the crime has happened. Operation Billionaires tells the story of Cheung Tze-Keung (changed to Cheung Chi-Ho for the film) a kidnapper nick-named "Big Spender". Released to theatres on the date of Cheung's date in a Mainland court, the movie shows how Cheung had a healthy "career" by kidnapping sons of tycoons, but eventually falls to his own code of honor, when an attempt to rescue a former partner gets him arrested.

These pulpy kind of movies can be fun, but Operation Billionaires never fully delivers the goods. Simon Yam gives a good performance as Cheung, but the film-makers over-glamorize him so much (he is showing helping old ladies across the street) that it's hard to take him too seriously as a hardened criminal. The rest of the cast is just kind of there. The only real one of note is Sherming Yiu (who play's Cheung's wife), and that's just because of her ample cleavage. Sadly, there is an almost total lack of violence, sex, gore or crude language that make these kinds of movies fun to watch. It really does just feel like a TV movie, and that is Operation Billionaires' biggest downfall.

[review from]

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 01/13/2003
Summary: A good movie that seems half finished....

At the start this movie appears to be one of those "classy thief" movies as Simon Yam jogs to his house full of beauties by the pool, drinking with his fellow rascals. Quickly, they pull off a high stakes kidnapping of a billionaire and you assume this is where the film is headed. However, Chueng (Simon) Celebrates by gambling and gets involved with a cheat, another member of the game,Cyclone, with a hot temper murders the guy in bloody fashion and in an understanding of gangsters both part ways.BUT WAIT! They meet again! One of Chuengs men is caught fucking the girlfriend of one of Cyclones men! What a coincidence! Chueng is such a level headed guy he talks Cyclone into into letting Horny live and Chueng and Cyclone become partners in crime. Big mistake. Cyclone is a psycho. Everything starts to fall apart. However there are some typical issues of bonding played out and some atypical issues of respect towards females. The problem with the movie is that it's only 77 minutes long. As if they just wanted to wrap things up and go home. Plot threads are quickly taken care of or left hanging. I for one believe any story can be told in less than 2 hours but this surely could have used more time. I'm assuming this is based on an actual event due to the beginning credts stating " Any likness to actual events is purely coincidental.." and all the typed info schrolling at the end as to what happened to each character. Maybe the movie was edited. Who knows?

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Operation Billionaire (1998)

'Operation Billionaire' shows on the first day of the trial of CHEUNG Chi=keung, the main character the movie talks about. It seems that 'Operation Billionaire' would like to take the advantage for the news from CHEUNG's trial which generates a talking point. This is also one and only one selling point for audience.

'Operation Billionaire' is a movie based on what CHEUNG has done. CHEUNG is a suspect for kipnapping lots of billionaire in reality, including billionaire Mr. LEE's elder son. The first half of the movie describes the group headed by CHEUNG Chi-keung (Simon YAM Tat-wah) and Chincken (TAM Yiu-man). Then it talks about how CHEUNG meets another top crminal YIP Sai-koon (which comes from the character of YIP Sai-foon, the top criminal in Hong Kong) and how they get the cooperation and so on.

This is a movie which has put in a wrong time. The promotion ad. emphasizes on that they don't need to watch the news in order to get the stuffs. This shows the main weakness of the movie, the research is not enough. In fact, there're lots of interesting things of CHEUNG which can be put in big screens. Unfortunately, it seems that the producers are in a hurry to put this up and skipped some of the interesting issues. For example, the negotiation between CHEUNG and billionaire LEE can be in more details. However, the movie has taken in a light way on this scene.

Another point that the movie failed to make use is the trial of CHEUNG. In reality, CHEUNG has been sentensed to prison but he was found not guilty in appeal. This should be another interesting stuffs but the movie skipped the whole part. The remaining describes the three relationship. First, the rightous between YAM and TAM. Second, the relationship between CHEUNG Chi-keung and YIP Sai-koon. Third, the relationship of his girl. I consider the rightous between YAN and TAM can be described in a way to show how TAM is so important to YAM. In the movie, it seems that they haven't got enough context on this issue. For the second one, I think it's okay though it can be more impressive.

In terms of actors and actress. Sorry to say that most of them has no charming. Maybe TAM Yiu-man can have more opportunity to show his acting skill if more description on him. But due to the rush of the plot, it's hard for most characters to act. The leading character Simon YAM is okay but I consider I'm a bit tired of watching his acting for these types.

However, there's a good point for the movie as all the politicans are very closed to the real one, especially LAW Koon-lan who acts as the Chief Secretary. However, this is not due to the movie but due to her successful for 'Last Governor in Hong Kong'.

On the whole, I consider CHEUNG Chi-keung is a worth-filming topic. However, 'Operation Billionaire' has taken the wrong ingredients as they skipped the more interesting materials. For the remaining materials, I consider they can make more efforts in the plot to make it more remarkable.