With Hong Kong, until recently, being a self governed province, there’s really little call for them to have a standing army. Which makes it a shame as it limits Hong Kong’s film industries ability to make films about the military… or so one would think. Fortunately we have the SDU to save us from such a glaring whole in their cultural fabric.
The SDU is basically a paramilitary group that specialises in urban operations involving small squads of well trained, heavily armed and armoured men with a pretty high testosterone level and a gun fixation. So really what we get with The New Option is a military training movie in the vein of, well the first SDU movies for a start, as well as An Officer and a Gentleman and GI Jane – group of new recruits that we follow as they go through a gruelling training regime under a fierce taskmaster who seems intent on breaking them. Perhaps I am exaggerating somewhat but that is the basic premise and the majority of the plot of the film.
Of course it is at this point of the review where I start to think I should be treading a bit more carefully for fear of giving away a bit too much. Normally a film like this you don’t expect much in terms of plot and can instead relax at the predictability of it. Contrary to this, there was actually a significant plot twist to New Option that actually impressed me somewhat before the film went back to its very cliche’d roots. While the twist itself I found cool, the delivery of it I found somewhat tiring as it is a device I have seen way too many times in films this year that, while unexpected in a film like this, was not exactly original.
Still the idea of it made sense in context and the delivery was actually quite well done. Like most action films, there are some questions about the plausibility of some of the plot but as long as there are sufficient distractions during the movie, then really it doesn’t become an issue (until you walk out and start trying to write a review of it, of course). Normally the distractions you would expect are the gunfire and the explosions. Instead, New Option actually presents character development to stop you thinking about it too much and while the movie is primarily focussed upon Jackie (Shawn Yu), the rest of the team are fleshed out a bit more than mere grunts and our taskmaster, Stone (Michael Wong) is more than just a loud speaker.
I may have mentioned it before but this is actually the third SDU Option movie made and I admit I haven’t actually seen any of the previous ones so I really can’t make any comparisons. But from what I have heard, the plots seem to have changed very little since the first one. As it stands by itself however, well it is quite reasonable for its genre and while not the most exciting movie, it is entertaining enough to maintain your attention. Not the most groundbreaking film around but certainly not the worst.