This sensational heist flick comes your way from the fevered brain of director Ringo Lam. In my opinion, he never quite topped his 1987 grand slam of City on Fire, School on Fire and Prison on Fire — that is, until this picture.
Lam leaves aside the more pyrotechnic aspects of the Hong Kong crime genre to weave a claustrophobic account of a policeman’s (Lau Ching Wan) obsession to catch a thief (Francis Ng). Lam brings off not only a great character study, but also a raw vision of 1997 Hong Kong, a vision propelled by his hit-and-run film-making style — after he failed to get local permission to film car chase scenes, he went ahead and shot them anyway.
If you watch Hong Kong crime for the two-gun mayhem, then stick with A Better Tomorrow 2; but if you want a more psychological approach, don’t miss this one. Although it has a fraction of ABT2’s body count, the conclusion is infinitely more devastating. The Hong Kong Film Critics Society awarded this Best Film of 1997, and Best Actor to Lau Ching Wan. Amen.