Blog Archives

Fulltime Killer (2001)

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It seems being a housekeeper in HK comes with a few hazards. If you’re like Chin (Kelly Lin) you can end up being love target between not one but two of Asia’s top professional killers, O (Takashi Sorimachi) and Tok (Andy Lau). [Depending on how you look at it, it may not be a bad thing!] O is Asia’s top assassin and Tok would like to see himself wear that title instead. Chin, O’s housekeeper/cleaner becomes an unwitting (this point … (read more)

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Election (2005)

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This is one of those movies that just gets better and better the more you think about it. Johnnie To has actively sought to bring a realistic representation of the triad to the screen, to subvert the glamourised manner with which the Hong Kong cinema (To included) has portrayed its local gang culture, and lay bare its true nature. These kind of revisionist gangster movies have always been the best, and Election reminded me of The Godfather Part 2 and … (read more)

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Breaking News (2004)

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Johnnie To confuses me. I have never been able to satisfactorily account for why I enjoy his films so much, and I don’t like that. It has always seemed to me that he strikes a very uneasy balance between visual style and dramatic substance; those devices (plot and character-related) To employs to lend weight to the emotional side of his films are usually very conventional, but somehow he always manages to obscure this until I think about it afterwards, which … (read more)

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The Mission (1999)

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There’s really nothing one can say that will adequately describe this film. I keep trying, but my tongue tangles with superfluous superlatives: excellent, great, superb, marvellous, impossibly good. I feel like I’ve regressed to my teen years, abandoning the maturity which I’m supposed to have gained by now.

Okay, then, I’ll give it a try. First up, this is one of director To’s best films. It exemplifies all of To’s strong points: visually stunning scenes, minimal dialogue, strongly defined characters, … (read more)

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Throw Down (2004)

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Johnnie To is ever the genre-shifting shapechanger. You can’t get a hold on him; just when you think you’ve got a firm grasp on his style, he jinks around, unhooks your hold and throws you back to the mat. I mean that in a good way.

Throw Down sees To partially back in the quirky territory of previous Milkway Image productions like The Odd One Dies and Too Many Ways To Be Number One, but in a more good-hearted … (read more)

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Running Out of Time 2 (2001)

If you liked Running Out of Time as much as I did then you’d have been hanging out to see this sequel by Johnnie To.

First off, the good news — Lau Ching Wan returns as the likeable, determined smarty-pants cop Inspector Ho Seung Sang. Other regulars from the first film such as Lam Suet, Ruby Wong and Hui Sui-Hong also returns (Lam Suet in a break from continuity tradition returns as a different character just to mess with our … (read more)

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My Left Eye Sees Ghosts (2002)

If there are comfort foods for the seasons then Milkyway films must be one of my comfort films.

As I was thinking about My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai’s latest hit, one film in particular springs to my mind — Needing You. In this case, because Sammi Cheng is again the lead actress but My Left Eye has another secret weapon, the pairing of Sammi with another Milkyway veteran — the dark and … (read more)

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A Hero Never Dies (1998)

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This is one for the true believers. If you long for the heroic archetypes of late 80s and early 90s Hong Kong cinema, here they are. The makers of Expect the Unexpected (director Johnnie To and producer Wai Ka-Fai) leave gritty crime realism aside for a moment and deliver up a glorious homage to the two-gun-blazing big-heart-pumping Hong Kong gunplay genre.

Jack (Leon Lai) is the big brother in Mr Yam’s gang. Martin (Lau Ching Wan) is the big brother … (read more)

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