When you combine the acting talents of Sean Lau Ching-wan, Louis Koo Tin-lok, and Gordon Lam Ka-tung, you get local blockbuster Dealer/Healer, based on the true story of a gangster-turned-preacher, who spreads the word of God to his brotherhood.
The film opens with repented gangster Chen Shun-chi (Lau) taking part in an interview thanks to his selection as one of the JCI Hong Kong Ten Outstanding Young Persons. With each question asked and pondered over, the film takes us back to various points in his past.
Chen was once the leader of a famous gang in Kowloon Walled City. The “13 Tsz Wan Shan”, as they were known, were notorious for selling drugs within the city (recreated with CGI, though old footage of the actual city might have been better applied). Soon though, his criminal activities catch up with him, and he is sent to prison for his drug abuse and trafficking.
In jail, he undergoes a startling transformation, and is released as a man devoted to saving his gangland brothers froma life of crime and drugs.
In real life, Chen is a devoted Christian, but it isn’t entirely obvious in the film. When he refers to God, Lau often points to the sky rather than mention Him by name. It’s a little odd, but it works as it means the film isn’t pushing any particular religious agenda.
The actors (all of which, interestingly enough, all starred in another Hong Kong film about gangs, Overheard 3) are all perfectly cast in their roles, with Lau being particularly compelling to watch, as he captures the nuances and facial tics of a drug addict perfectly.
Edited by Ginny Wong