Description: Counterfeit artist Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) is extradited to Hong Kong from a Thailand jail. The Hong Kong police are investigating a series of murders in the counterfeiting world and suspect Painter is the culprit, a mysterious figure who is the alleged head of his own counterfeit operation and one of Lee’s known associates. Lee refuses to expose Painter, insisting that his life will be in danger, but Inspector Ho (Catherine Chau) counters, claiming to have evidence linking Lee to the murders. The proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of noted artist Yuen Man (Zhang Jingchu), who attempts to have Lee freed. An agreement is reached where Lee will be released into witness protection in exchange for exposing the identity of Painter and recounting the history of their criminal activity.
During the 1990s, Lee and Yuen lived together in Vancouver as lovers and painters, but fail to sell any of their artworks and struggle to make ends meet. They have a reversal of fortune when Lee discovers his passion and talent as an art forger, but Yuen disapproves. Lee finds an agent for Yuen who raves about her work, but Lee’s own original art is criticized for only imitating the styles of the great masters.
Lee’s work as a forger is noticed by Painter (Chow Yun-fat), who invites Lee to join his counterfeit banknote operation. Frustrated at his own art’s lack of success, Lee agrees to leave Canada with the goal of returning and winning over Yuen. Painter also offers to help Lee with his romantic ambitions. Working with Painter’s team to overcome the security features of the new 1996 US 100-dollar bill, Lee finds success in his new role, but is reluctant to cooperate with Painter’s erratic and often violent methods, especially after an intense armored car hijacking in Canada.
With their stock of new bills, Painter’s team travel to Thailand to re-negotiate their contract with crime boss The General. Painter declines The General’s terms and reveals that he has come to Thailand for revenge, knowing that The General was responsible for the death of Painter’s father years earlier. During the destruction of the compound, Lee rescues Sau-ching, The General’s own counterfeit expert. Meanwhile, Yuen has been making a successful career as an artist. When Painter and Lee visit one of her exhibitions, Painter informs Lee he has bought all the art, for Lee to decorate his new Thailand mansion and impress Yuen. Confused by Lee’s negative reaction, Painter learns that Yuen is already engaged to marry her agent. Sau-ching joins Painter’s team after recovering from her injuries. Painter gives her a fake passport with the name Yuen Man, to Lee’s bemusement.
Painter learns that the next buyer for the counterfeit money is an undercover law enforcement agent. In the hotel room where the buyer meets Painter’s team, Painter claims to want to exit the counterfeit business and offers to sell the buyer the printing plate. Lee is asked by Painter to retrieve the box containing the plate and offer the plate to the buyer, but the box only contains a handgun. The buyer sees a reflection of the gun while Lee hesitates and Painter is forced to shoot the buyer in the ensuing struggle. Frustrated with Lee’s lack of willpower, Painter reveals that Yuen and her agent are bound and blindfolded in the next room. Painter insists that if Lee really wants Yuen in his life then he needs to prove it by killing the agent. Almost everybody is killed in the chaos that follows; Lee, Sau-ching and Yuen are the only survivors and the former two flee to Lee’s new home in Thailand. The newspapers report that Painter’s body was never found, and Lee is eventually arrested by the Thai police after being found with counterfeit banknotes.
In present-day Hong Kong, Lee and Yuen are escorted to a hotel. Inspector Ho notices a man matching Lee’s description of Painter who is dressed in uniform and attempting to enter police headquarters. He is ambushed and captured. Confused, the man insists he is a legitimate police officer, and was the driver who brought Lee Man from the airport to police HQ days earlier.
It is revealed that while the events of Lee’s story are mostly accurate, Lee’s description of Painter is fabricated and Lee was Painter all along. The real Yuen Man is painting in China, while the Yuen Man in Hong Kong is actually Sau-ching, who received cosmetic surgery to look like Yuen following the burns she received in the raid on The General’s compound. Lee Man and Sau-ching kill their guards and escape Hong Kong by boat.
The next day, Sau-ching reveals to Lee that she has been deliberately sailing in circles and they are still in Hong Kong waters. As the police surround them, she describes how she is tired of living with two identities as an accessory to Lee’s deception, and detonates a cache of explosives on the boat.
Later in China, Inspector Ho visits Yuen Man to inform her that Painter has been killed. Yuen is indifferent to the news, saying that Painter’s death will not do anything to bring back her fiancee. Asked if she recognizes Lee’s photograph, Yuen simply states that the man used to be her neighbour: The part of Lee’s story where he lived together with Yuen was also fabricated, and his obsession with her was no more than the unrequited love of a stranger.
Country: Hong Kong
Times: 130 Minutes
Release Date: 2018
Director: Felix Chong
Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Aaron Kwok