Full Alert

1997  |  Cantonese  |  35mm  |  Color  |  99 min  |  Chinese Subtitle

Director: Ringo Lam.Scriptwriter: Lau Wing-kin, Ringo Lam.Cinematographer: Ardy Lam.Editor: Marco Mak, Angie Lam.Art Director: Choo Sung-pong, Wong Ching-ching.Music: Peter Kam.
Cast: Lau Ching-wan, Francis Ng, Jack Kao, Amanda Lee
Producer: Ringo Lam.Production: The Young Filmmakers.World Sales: Mei Ah Entertainment Group


Ringo Lam’s first film after his late-1990s Hollywood detour offers a treacherous vision of Hong Kong where right and wrong have merged, and justice no longer has meaning. Heavyweight actors collide in this intense police thriller that presents Ringo Lam at the top of his game, with meticulous direction, a complex script, compelling characterization, and exhilarating action sequences shot guerrilla-style on the streets of Hong Kong.

Date:   12/4 (Wednesday)

Time:   7:15PM

Venue:   HK Science Museum Lecture Hall

Free admission for all screenings. Tickets are available to public on-site 30 minutes prior to each screening on a first-come, first served basis. Limit to one ticket per person.


Full Alert portrays a Hong Kong with a highly distinctive local flavor. I guess this heightened peculiarity of Hong Kong is the result of your recent trip to the US?

I spent ten months in the US shooting Maximum Risk . Naturally upon my return I’ve felt a stronger bond to Hong Kong. That’s why I told many people: I’ll never shoot another film outside of Hong Kong again. Besides, Full Alert serves an additional function: I wanted to document how Hong Kong looked before the handover of 1997. Thus the Bird Garden, narrow alleys, Central, Causeway Bay were shot deliberately as part of this record.

Did you survey those areas before writing the script, or did you have ideas for the locations early on?

I had ideas early on.

I recall some interviews where you mention that Prison on Fire is generally regarded as an action film even though it does not have many action scenes. How do you explain this misconception?

I simply don’t know why! But my creative process always focuses on the characters first and foremost. Frankly, Full Alert has an ordinary plot about cops and robbers. But it’s too simple, so I try my best to enrich the story with details. Characters make the story. The personalities of the cops and robbers are very interesting to me. Making a film is to record something about myself and my thoughts at that time. The problems that a cop faces, his emotional ups and downs, for example, reflect much of what a director faces while making a film. So I animate my characters with my own feelings. The character played by Lau Ching-wan bears a lot of resemblance to me: he’s anxious, restless, angry, making all kinds of mistakes. He has his own doubts and fears; he faces both work and family pressure. How much longer can he take this? I don’t know. Should I continue making films? I don’t know. The story of Full Alert isn’t just about solving or not solving a case.

Interview with Ringo Lam, Hong Kong Panorama 97-98