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‘I Did It My Way’ Fails to Live Up to Its Potential

Eddie Peng and Andy Lau in I Did It My Way
Alibaba Pictures Group

When it comes to one of Hong Kong’s first major releases in 2024, an intriguing premise and well-rounded performances are unfortunately not enough to save what is ultimately a mediocre crime drama. Starring Andy Lau in the role of a gangster/drug lord, Kevin Kwan’s I Did It My Way fails to capitalize on what could have been a refreshing take on the all-too-familiar undercover cop subgenre. On paper, Kwan had all the right ingredients to create a true spectacle, but he simply failed to cook up a truly satisfying film.

As an attorney who doubles as the leader of an illegal drug operation, George (Lau) begins pushing his products through the dark web in an attempt to globalize his business. Sau (Gordon Lam) is an undercover cop deeply embedded within the organization, seemingly determined to bring it down. What follows is the usual cat-and-mouse scuffle with few unexpected turns and a stacked supporting cast that includes the likes of Simon Yam, Eddie Peng, Philip Keung, and Lam Suet.

Lam, who has long been one of Hong Kong cinema’s most dependable (and somewhat underrated) actors, is excellent as always. His subtle hints of moral anguish are strikingly clear, and seeing him partner with Lau again after more than a decade (since 2013’s Firestorm) is certainly a plus. It’s also worth noting that Lau rarely plays the antagonist; here he is given ample room to inflict a menacing performance, particularly in the film’s third act. These bursts of intense outrage, however, are hindered by a thinly developed characterization that doesn’t just feel familiar, but is borderline stereotypical. Despite Lau’s best efforts, this is still a character we’ve seen countless times and, when placed within a lackluster narrative, doesn’t really move the needle in an interesting way. Those expecting a villainous performance in the same vein as Lau’s work in Protégé will be disappointed to know that this is closer to what we got in the (similarly underwhelming) White Storm sequel, Drug Lords.

The film’s screenplay — which has numerous screenwriters attached to it — really tries to create nuance through a chaotic narrative that is presumably meant to mirror Sau’s conflicting loyalties as an undercover police officer. There’s a morality clash between Sau’s commitment to his own family and his role in law enforcement, which also extends to George’s own familial responsibilities as a soon-to-be father. The narrative intentionally gets lost in navigating each character’s moral compasses, which is an interesting concept, but also lacks ingenuity when you consider how storied the undercover cop subgenre is in Hong Kong cinema.

Strong performances and high production values are a welcoming presence, but not enough to vitalize a rather stale rehashing of ideologies that audiences have seen before. To be fair, innovating within the confines of such an overdone story arc is no easy task. Yet, with a high-scale production like this, yearning for a spark in creative ignition also seems fair. It’s just unfortunate that despite ample firepower, Kwan isn’t able to deliver the goods.

While it’s always exciting to see Andy Lau play the part of a villain — which, to be honest, is enough of a draw to watch the film — I Did It My Way doesn’t offer one of Hong Kong’s greatest performers the type of quality canvas he deserves to work with. Local films that assemble such a strong scope of talent like this are becoming increasingly rare, and seeing it go to waste, particular for fans of Hong Kong cinema, punctuates the cruel nature of wasted potential.


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