THE STAGE 32 LOGLINES

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THE DEAD RINGER
By Suzanne Lutas

GENRE: Thriller
LOGLINE:

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the mistress of a London-based Chinese Triad boss, an ordinary waitress is trained by the MI5 to infiltrate the gang and bring them down.

SYNOPSIS:

Mei Li SUN (25), works illegally as a waitress in a London dive bar. Usually driven and reactive, she’s been fragile and vulnerable since her father was slain, right before her eyes, in THE SNAKEHEADS gang’s assault of the place where he was a croupier. Because the Snakeheads are responsible for smuggling the two of them into England, she now must pay for both her transportation fee and her deceased father’s -- or end up in their parlors. With that debt and threat hanging over her, rent due to her lodgers, the disappearance of her sister in the flow of stowaways when they fled China, and the grief of her father’s brutal murder, Mei Li is at a loss.

Now Mei Li has been spotted on the CCTV footage of the Snakeheads’ raid in which her father was killed, and is approached by ALEX RHYS (36), an MI5 officer who is dedicated to his job and has no personal life since he lost his fiancée in the 2005 suicide bomb attack on the London Underground. He gives her a choice: either work for them, or be expelled. Backed into a corner Mei Li can only accept. Alex thus starts training Mei Li, not only to become an agent, but also to enhance her skills of observation and impersonation.

Once her training is nearly complete, she discovers that she has been trained to impersonate ANNA HUANG, who is not only her exact double, but also the mistress -- the soft point rather, of Mr. WU (50s), who combines the qualities of an affluent businessman and a scholar as the ruthless boss of the most prominent Triad gang in London, the archenemies of the Snakeheads.

Now the MI5’s strategy is also to divide and rule the Triads, so Alex teams up with the Snakeheads’ boss, kidnaps Anna Huang and dictates him to keep her for two weeks without asking for a ransom, on the pretext of driving Mr. Wu to give in to whatever demands by the end of the fortnight period. In fact, it is the time they need to send Mei Li into Mr. Wu’s residence to take Anna’s place, in a high-stakes performance that could end at any minute if she makes one tiny mistake.

At first, Mr. Wu is fooled. As Mei Li carries out Anna’s usual sordid tasks, like managing child prostitutes from China, she is shattered by the amount of violence she is faced with, and she falls prey to a variation of Stockholm Syndrome, mistaking Mr. Wu’s power over her for protection. Despite Alex’s firm attempts to pull her out, she becomes Mr. Wu’s mistress, literally, and puts the whole mission at risk.

This is when Mr. Wu becomes suspicious about Mei Li. He puts her to the test, charging her to kill a young prostitute who reminds her of her sister. Mei Li snaps out of it and saves the girl’s life.

However, before leaving Mr. Wu’s place for good, Mei Li searches for his notebook, which is the last crucial evidence she needs to put him away. She stops when he comes home, soon followed by Anna who has managed to break out of her cell by seducing her guard and stabbing him with his belt prong!

Baffled, Mr. Wu has the two women tortured. Even if he feels deep down who the impostor is, he wants to know why, and who pulls the strings. Simultaneously, the Snakeheads gang storms in to “negotiate” after Anna’s escape, and a battle ensues. In the middle of the all-out gang war, the only way out of the torture room for Mei Li, is to team up with the woman whose identity she stole, and find a way to contact the MI5.

When Alex and reinforcements raid Mr. Wu’s residence, they stop the ongoing fight between Mr. Wu and Mei Li.

In the end, Mei Li has gained recognition, and a new assignment. Since she has also been informed that her younger sister is alive in Hong Kong, Mei Li now views her near future focused, hopeful – and whole.

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