The Viral Factor

Intense criminal thriller in the streets of Jordan and Kuala Lumpur.

Director: Dante Lam | Stars: Jay Chou, Nicolas Tse

Budget: 26 million | Box office: 4 million (two weeks)

IMDB: 6.7 | Metacritic: 32

Viral Factor, Jay Chou, Dante Lam

I‘m not too fond of Asian action thrillers, because they tend to be too similar and uninspired, just copying the same ideas in different settings. But The Viral Factor hooked me with its trailer – it was one of the more intense and intriguing clips I‘ve seen in a while. Take a look at it.

The story goes about a newly developed version of smallpox virus, which some guys try to spread and then make billions for vaccine, and other guys, of course, try to stop.  It‘s nicely surprising to see opening scenes of Asian movie in Jordan and then moving to many other locations, the main of which is Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

More impressive than a variety of locations are gunfights and action sequences. They have authentic feeling, some even in the likes of The Town. The team spared no efforts and used quite a generous budget to make impressive chase and fight episodes, even hiring full team of police helicopters.

The story about a virus and any means from both sides to reach their goal fits well for this intense thriller. But I‘m not sure about the family part of it. Of course it helps to have a personal side of the story, motivation to kill or save somebody. But here with all the family separations, lost brothers, found fathers and etc. it‘s a bit too much. Because of that the movie stretches to two hours and before the end you find yourself just waiting through these sad/boring parts.

But it‘s worth to watch it just to see an example of well constructed Hong Kong thriller, which has a few interesting ideas. So far the movie had a limited release in US and Canada, and I hope there will be more opportunities to see it. At least the lead actor Jay Chou is already known internationally after Green Hornet, so it should be easier to sell.

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