Prison on Fire: Preacher
AKA: Prison on Fire - Preacher
Year of release: 2002
Genre: crime drama
Director: Yip Wai-Ying
Action director: James Ha
Producer: Nam Yin
Writer: Jameson Lam
Cinematography: Chan Yiu-Ming
Editing: Jacky Leung
Music: Mak Jan-Hung
Stars: Michael Tiu, Michael Tong, Joyce Tang, Tong Ka-Fei, Lee Siu-Kei, Akina Hong, Shing Fui-On, John Ching, Joe Junior, Karel Wong, Chin Ching-Man, James Ha
Rated IIB for violence and language
Movie Review Index
An ultra low-budget shot-on-video release that shamelessly tries to cash in on the Prison on Fire name in order to dupe unsuspecting viewers into dedicating ninety minutes of their life into watching the DVD, Prison on Fire: Preacher is a deadly dull crime drama that will provoke yawns or unintentional laughter rather than excitement or thoughtfulness.
The movie stars Michael Tiu as Hong, a "big brother" who is sentenced to life after killing a man during a gang fight. In prison -- which reuses the same sets from Troublesome Night 16, which was also directed by Yip Wai-Ying -- Hong bonds with an old gangster, Silly (Shing Fui-On), who brings him to the chapel's mass, which is led by Law (Joe Junior). Eventually, Law's teachings inspire Hong to change his ways and attempt to save his son, Chi Wai (Tong Ka-Fai), from following the wrong path.
This is a fairly trite plot, but in the hands of a good film-maker, there could have been something decent produced here. However, under the guidance of Yip Wai-Ying, the plodding exposition scenes become almost unbearably leaden at points, and when the pro-Christian agenda is forced upon the audience with the subtlety of a late-night televangelist begging for your grandma's gold teeth in order to pay for a new crystal cathedral, the viewer could very well be forgiven if the urge to hit the eject button was not suppressed.
In a sea of dozens -- if not hundreds -- of similar releases that have been put out by Hong Kong studios over the years, it takes a lot for a crime picture to stand out. Prison on Fire: Preacher does, but for all of the wrong reasons. It's unoriginal, trite, and most damningly of all, just plain boring. If you're thinking about watching this, do yourself and your brain cells a favor and watch the Ringo Lam/Chow Yun-Fat originals instead.