Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg

Overview

The Hong Kong police is hunting a counterfeiting gang led by a mastermind code-named "Painter" . The gang possesses exceptional counterfeiting skills which makes it difficult to distinguish the authenticity of its counterfeit currency. The scope of their criminal activities extends globally and greatly attracts the attention of the police. In order to crack the true identity of "Painter", the police recruits a painter named Lee Man to assist in solving the case.

Metadata
Title Project Gutenberg
Director Felix Chong
Director of Photography Jason Kwan
Runtime 2 h 10 min
Certification
Release Date 30 September 2018
Tagline
IMDb Id tt7183578
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The police have apprehended Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) who is a member of a counterfeiting gang led by ‘Painter’. The police are willing to make a deal if that allows them to capture this mysterious Painter (Yun-Fat Chow), who is proud to be a third generation counterfeiter, a man as capable of charming those around him as he is of ruthlessly killing them if they dare cross him.

Lee Man was an artist who failed to make it big unlike his wife Yuen Man (Jingcu Zhang); but he excels at forging masterpieces in great detail. One day he is approached by Painter to come work for him. On the promise of great riches, Lee reluctantly agrees and meets the rest of the gang as they go to work to find a way of copying the new US dollar bill.

German goldsmith and inventor Johannes Gutenberg is credited with introducing the printing press to most of Europe in the 15th century. The movie Project Gutenberg makes no mention of this German fellow whatsoever, but the story does go into great detail about how to create the perfect printing method for counterfeit money. Identifying the various details that make the new bill hard to forge, and then figuring out ways to copy this faithfully – from avoiding the moiré effect, to integrating the watermark, to tracking down the right kind of starch free paper in Eastern Europe, and to stealing a specific colour shifting ink in Canada, the US Mint must be thrilled with the details elaborated on.

As the gang makes progress, Painter starts to make deals to sell the counterfeit money. Along the way, one of his gang uses some of the counterfeit money, which in a roundabout way results in the capture of Lee Man and so his interrogation starts.

The story is told by means of a series of flashbacks, and at one point even as a flashback within a flashback, which is somewhat confusing for a few minutes. Throughout the entire movie there is a lot of plot going on to keep you engaged, even if gets more and more over the top as the story progresses: the intricacies of the heist get replaced by full on action with more explosions and a bigger headcount than you can keep up with. While Yun-Fat Chow is having fun with his role as the enigmatic baddie, there is a real problem with the movie: the  mystery isn’t all that mysterious. Not to say that you’ll figure everything out, as some of it is fairly far-fetched as a means to deceive us, but there are literally enough giveaways in the opening scene to suspect where the essence of it may all be going; that doesn’t take away from some of the fun along the way, but it does make the denouement rather underwhelming.

The film’s original title is ‘Mo Seung’ which has nothing to do with John of Gutenberg and his press, it means ‘Unique’ or literally ‘Not a pair’. Unfortunately, this movie is not that – it has all the markings of having been inspired a bit too much by a particular movie that I shall not name to avoid spoilers. The title itself along with the opening scene in fact make for the film’s biggest spoilers, which is hard to understand of a movie that wishes so hard to mislead us.

★★½

Project Gutenberg
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