|Great sign of things "To" come.
Johnnie To is in my eyes officially the best thing since John Woo to happen to action, Asian movies or otherwise.
From the opening camera shots sweeping across a set filled with exotic looking palm trees (which would not look out of place in a Michael Bay movie) it is evident this movie will be all style and it pretty much is, but with a not too awful story. When I watch a movie like this though plot comes second. I don't expect it to be too character driven nor full of twists and turns and I rate it as an action spectacle.
The movie is shot beautifully, the scene with the wine glasses is ultra cool and Lau Ching Wang (Longest Nite) as the cowboy hat wearing Martin has the same air of complete bad-ass about him as Chow Yun Fat does in the A Better Tomorrow movies.
The plot follows two rival gangsters who would possibly be friends, if they werent on opposite sides of a gang war. Jack and Martin. When double crossed by their bosses and left for dead they team up for revenge. Basically thats all there is to the movie. But as I said previously, in a movie of this kind that isnt the important part.
Johnnie To makes gunplay and heroic bloodshed as sexy as John Woo did before he went Hollywood and Leon Lai (Fallen Angels) and Lau Ching Wang have good chemistry as the two reluctant anti-heroes of the piece. There are some wonderful scenes like the meeting in the wine bar and Jack as a crippled sniper that are filmed beautifully, as is the entire opening sequence. To even manages to make a guy in a wheelchair, on a shoot-em-up rampage in a nightclub (right) seem like one of the coolest things since the mega gunfight in the early part of The Killer.
Maybe all the comparisons I make between To and Woo are unfair because To is a great director in his own way and despite the similarities there also many differences in style - as shown in To's brilliant recent co-directorial effort with Wai Ka Fa, Running on Karma. Incidentally as is common with those two guys Wai Ka Fa is involved with To again in this movie as a producer. That said maybe being compared to Woo is no bad thing and it is certainly people who love Woo who will probably most appreciate this film.