This is one of the bleak new wave of post-Handover HK crime films which include Full Alert, Beast Cops and A True Mob Story. Like those films, the characters here are very Hong Kong, but in a Hong Kong the place sense rather than a Hong Kong the movie myth sense. The opening is dynamite. Three inept Mainland robbers botch a jewel store holdup. One of them flees into a nearby apartment building, inadvertently leading the police to the hideout of a second gang of criminals who are much more hardcore than the bumbling Chinese thieves. Serious arms fire ensues. The rest of the film follows four cops as they track the surviving members of both gangs.
Simon Yam plays the hardbitten sergeant, and Lau Ching Wan plays his unorthodox lieutenant. A love triangle develops between them and key witness Mandy (Yo Yo Mung), just to provide a little light dating action between car chases, in that uniquely HK blend of whimsical romance and teeth-grinding violence.
Tonally, the film is similar to the Hollywood flick Se7en, with the cops usually arriving after the villains have left. The evil gang in this film use home invasions to establish hideouts, and target the homes of single women. One crime aftermath in particular is perhaps the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in film, purely by the implication of the events that have transpired.
Expect the Unexpected is proof that there’s still life in the Hong Kong film industry. Pacing, acting and script are all superb. The title holds the truth. You can try to expect it, but you won’t. I guarantee it.