It's always a pleasant little surprise of what Herman Yau can do with a limited budget and still manages to come up something worthwhile. Such case is SPLIT SECOND MURDERS, a little thriller-comedy that also (coincidentally) follows the template of the marginally better Danny Pang's SEVEN 2 ONE.
The movie opens with a cheesy CGI opening montage of an angel of death (Chet Lam) who is particularly bewildered of how come so many people died unexpected within the same day. What follows next is a story centers on Luk (6 Wings, of goofy hip-hop group FAMA), a struggling comic-book artist who is about to have a series of bad luck in his life over the course of a single day. He is so dedicated of his work that he's even willing to neglect the presence of his girlfriend Julia (Charmaine Fong) who has grown fed up with his ignorance. When Luk wakes up in the morning, he discovers Julia has left him. At the same time, he also delighted to find out that he might land a job as a comic-book artist in a questionable triad-owned publishing firm, which is manned by a slack-looking editor (MC Jin). That particular day he finds himself in a whirlwind of conflict, usually involving unrelated people who get pissed off at each other before ends up to varied degree of violence. Among the conflicts are two men fighting in a restaurant over the actual ingredient found in a food; a road rage between an angry laborer and an impatient taxi driver; an unpleasant reunion dinner between two couple of husbands and wives (Stephanie Cheng, Kay Tse, C Kwan and Andy Hui); and of course a triad gang conflict, led by Fan Siu-Wong and Maggie Siu, that ends up getting caught in fire. Apparently all this happenstance does occur for a reason: it's a price to pay for Luk's ignorant behavior, and in the end he does made up for a redemptive solution with a pretty club girl named Fong (Chrissie Chau) and begins to see the error of his ways.
Unlike SEVEN 2 ONE's more intriguing subject matter of a series of conflicted characters get caught in a web of complex scenarios that ultimately lead to convenience store robbery, novelist and screenwriter Erica Li's screenplay dealing with karma, fate and bad luck is mostly a mixed result.
Still Herman Yau's direction remains effective. He certainly knows away with satirical comedy and it's especially darkly hilarious to watch the emerging anger of his characters pissed off against each other. It also helps that Yau's quirky touch to add pop-culture knowledge of Hong Kong lifestyle that makes fun of average people -- ranging from their greed, materialism to self-interest. That's not all, as Yau manages to get the most from his largely inexperienced young cast. Despite the inclusion of veteran actors by the likes of Andy Hui, Candy Lo, Fan Siu-Wong and Maggie Siu, it was the young idols and singers who aren't particularly known for their acting abilities, surprisingly manage to stand out above the rest. Among the standout of course, is 6 Wing himself who is both likable and at times sympathetic as the out-of-luck Luk it's actually fun to watch him going through the course of a bad day.
Though SPLIT SECOND MURDERS is hardly a great cinema by any means, it remains a worthwhile experience especially for a low-budget quickie.