Genre: Action/Crime
Director: Herman Yau
Cast: Sean Lau, Francis Ng, Michael Miu, Philip Keung, Michael Chow, Cherry Ngan, Yeung Wai Lun, Kent Cheng, Timmy Hung, Kenny Wong, Kenneth Low, Kearen Pang, Andy Lau
Runtime: 2 hrs
Rating: NC16 (Some Violence)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 27 June 2024

Synopsis: Negotiator expert Zhuo Wenwei (played by Sean Lau) unexpectedly becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. Forced into a corner, he occupies the police station, taking officers hostage, and demands negotiations with the former negotiator Xie Jiajun (played by Francis NG). With Xie's expertise in psychological manipulation and Zhuo's exceptional skills, they engage in a battle of wits. As the verbal sparring deepens, their positions and mindsets gradually change... This film is adapted from the American movie "The Negotiator".

Movie Review:

While Hollywood has the habit of copying other superior foreign movies and make them their own, the HK movie industry prefers not to. Which of course explains why you don’t see dinosaurs chasing after Andy Lau in busy Mongkok for example. Yet, Crisis Negotiators has joined the exclusive club of Connected (2008), in remaking a Hollywood title for the Chinese audiences.

Although we must admit prolific writer and director Herman Yau did retained the gist of the original crime thriller, it’s not a must to catch the F. Gary Gray version (The Negotiator) starring Samuel L. Jackson and the once lauded Kevin Spacey.

The biggest difference is the addition of a prologue which introduces fellow hostage negotiators, Cheuk (Sean Lau) and Tse (Francis Ng) in a tricky situation where a mental patient and his wife decides to hold several hostages using a LPG tank. The entire scene is moving and intense because the mental patient is played engagingly by producer and megastar Andy Lau and both he and Yau is making sure that the appetiser is up to your taste.

Three years after the opening act, Tse has left the force to become a social worker while Cheuk is being framed for killing his colleague (Kenny Wong) and also being involved in a major embezzlement which concerned the police force welfare fund. Of course, we knew Cheuk is innocent as Yau threw in a scene where we can clearly see the culprit planting evidence in his house. Being the prime suspect, Cheuk has no choice but to hold several people hostage at a police station including his boss (Michael Miu) and the head of internal affairs (Michael Chow).

Everyone from the head of police (Kent Cheng), SDU and Cheuk’s colleagues (Ken Low and Timmy Hung) are activated to the crime scene. In order to clear his name, Cheuk demands that Tse be the hostage negotiator as the former believes Tse is a righteous fellow and a neutral party in the whole saga thus it's time to cue in the obligatory screaming, shouting and gun firing.

Despite the so-called adaptation, Crisis Negotiators works like a standard, old-school HK cops and robber thriller. Whatever criticisms you have about Herman Yau as a director, the guy simply works far harder than the average filmmaker. Likely Wong Jing is going to have a say about this but this review is not about him. Yau has been shunning away from his exploitation roots and shifting his gear into big budget, CGI-heavy actioners (The White Storm 3, Shockwave) in recent years and while his outputs can largely be rated from bad to mediocre, Crisis Negotiators is more into the latter.

That is to say, it’s not bad after all.

With the exception of some unbelievable foot chases and exhilarating car crashes in the busy streets of Hong Kong, the crime thriller stays relatively grounded. In short, there’s no distracting massive CGI scenes which Yau is fond of. Right here, Yau generally keeps the pacing hectic and all thanks to his two leading men, Sean and Francis who never fails to keep things afloat despite a relatively predictable script. Considering the promise of a larger conspiracy at work, the ending don’t really lead to anywhere except a few corrupted cops.

As for Sean and Francis, frankly Crisis Negotiators won’t even work in the first place without these two alluring veteran actors. They might looked as if they are simply here for the pay check but you can’t deny they never for one second overplayed their parts and easily exudes rousing screen presence throughout the two hours running time. If you can still recall, Sean also played a hostage negotiator opposite Andy Lau in Running Out of Time.

For fans of HK action movies, you are not likely going to miss Yau’s touches anytime soon as the prolific filmmaker has yet another title due to release the week after. For now, Crisis Negotiators works better than the usual Chinese actioners in terms of execution and acting.

Movie Rating:




(On the whole, not exactly noteworthy or memorable, Crisis Negotiators is entertaining enough for what it is)

Review by Linus Tee


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