Herman Yau’s 2006 film On the Edge is a fine Hong Kong crime drama. Nick Cheung plays an undercover cop who has spent 8 years infiltrating a triad. The film opens with the arrest of the crime boss. With this success behind him, Cheung doesn’t know what to do. He liked the crime life quite a bit. He had a very hot girlfriend (Rain Li), drank a ton, got in some epic fights. Looked like a lot of fun actually. Now he’s back as a regular cop. All his friends are gangsters and they think, rightfully, that he’s a traitor. The cops, especially his new partner Anthony Wong (always a welcome sight), don’t trust him. Wong is something of a thug in his own right, a hard-boiled cop who doesn’t mind beating a gangster around. Are the cops any better than the gangsters anyway?
Two scenes frame this paradox. Both include Cheung serving as a wingman to a thug needing to intimidate someone in an apartment for information. In both, Cheung takes out a small boy to play so he doesn’t have to see what will happen to his father. With the triads, the father is fine, probably a little scared. Child never suspects anything happened. With Wong, the father is beaten and bloody and the child freaks out. Why should Cheung be a cop if this is what it is like? Why not go back to the triads? Oh yeah, they hate him.
In the end, can Cheung be rehabilitated? Is there a way out? The answer should not surprise you.