6.8/10
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23 user 14 critic

Sip si 32 dou (1996)

A mysterious and highly skilled hitwoman in Hong Kong is paid to assassinate top-level crime bosses. After striking up a relationship with a noodle vendor, she decides to travel to South ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Shu Li Han
...
Long Shek
Jae-seok Han
Shirley Wong
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chi Ping Chang
Dion Cheung
Kam-bon Cheung
Jung-il Choi
Sang Woo Han ...
Yichin
Ying Hau
Han Chou Ho
Hee-tae Jeong
Ki-Ju Kim
Yeon-joo Kim
Benny Li Shuan Yan ...
Mr. Fung
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Storyline

A mysterious and highly skilled hitwoman in Hong Kong is paid to assassinate top-level crime bosses. After striking up a relationship with a noodle vendor, she decides to travel to South Korea to complete one last job. Unfortunately, the dead man's bodyguard is out for revenge. Written by Trey Evans

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Action | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and some nudity | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

21 September 1996 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

A sangue freddo  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Impressive HK darkness by Milky Way Image and Johnnie To
6 February 2003 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Hong Kong cinema veteran Johnnie To's Milky Way Image company has produced some of the best of the recent Hong Kong films that include the hyper dark one night set gangster drama The Longest Nite (dir. Patrick Yau, 1998) and the almost Kitano like in its finale Expect the Unexpected (Yau, 1998). Neither of these or some other Milkyway films are credited for Johhnie To as the director but he, like Tsui Hark or Johnny Mak, are very closely in the filming process involved too and so they can be considered as "co-directors" and their visions are always there in films they've produced. Johnnie himself has directed classics like The Big Heat (1988), Barefoot Kid (1993), Heroic Trio (1993) plus many others. Beyond Hypothermia (1996) is directed by Patrick Leung who has worked with John Woo for example as the co-writer in Woo's most harrowing masterpiece Bullet in the Head (1990). Hypothermia is written by Roy Szeto who has written films like Billy Chung Siu Hung's dark swordsplay tale The Assassin (1993) and Ching Siu Tung's East is Red aka Swordsman III (1993).

In Beyond Hypothermia, Wu Chien Lien plays a mysterious and silent assassin who gets her jobs done with great care and "talent" and never gets caught or has trouble with her conscience or feelings towards the victims and their relatives. She in fact hasn't got too much feelings as her past is a complete mystery and all she and her aunt, the one who has taken care of her, know is that she was adopted from Cambodja and then raised to become a killer. Her body temperature is also lower than that of a normal human being's and thus the film title. She can be located max. 3 months in one place for security and safety reasons and now she is in Hong Kong. Soon she meets an attractive albeit pretty simple-minded noodle store owner (Lau Ching Wan) she soon falls in love with and so starts to feel something, too. But in the violent reality based world the film is set in, it may already be too late to start a new, better and safer life with the loved one.

The film is extremely dark, at times pretty nihilistic and thoroughly impressive in its visuality for most of the time. It is not as magical as the blue smoke filled The Longest Nite nor as restrained as Expect the Unexpected but it is very realistic and bleak as a big city is or can be. The cinematography by talented Arthur Wong (Eastern Condors, the stunning Once Upon a Time in China II, Dragon Inn, The Moon Warriors plus many other modern HK classics) is really as bleak and effective as the urban visions in Japanese Takeshi Kitano's Violent Cop (1989) or in the darkest HK urban action dramas like Alfred Cheung's On the Run (1988) for example. There are many interesting techniques to create effective illusions like speedings, slow motions, sudden zooms and weird angles and fortunately they are used pretty wisely and don't become just eye candy and meaningless pseudo-stylish nonsense often found in certain HK films. For example the furious assassination scene from the roof and the chase sequence after that, set in the traffic time HK highway, has some very creepy moments in the camerawork department and they just desire the big screen to reach their full impact.

The film is rather pessimistic from the very beginning and the film is as honest and gritty about depicting human nature and violence as only non-commercial cinema can and dares. The ending is an extremely violent and harrowing long sequence in the tradition of Expect the Unexpected and has the kind of infernal carnage that hits mercilessly straight to the face. Man is a beast willing and able to kill and destroy each other and itself and finales like this show it almost as powerfully and mercilessly as possible. The violence in the film is never "beautifully stylized" or the usual bullet ballet heroic bloodshed style found in for example films of John Woo, but it is only brutal and ugly in the tradition of Ringo Lam, the Mak Brothers and Kirk Wong to name just a few of the various HK masters all of which are great with their own styles and themes. Beyond Hypothermia is simply the most harrowing film I've seen for some time and it is so satisfying to see HK cinema not too long time ago could deliver interesting and uncompromising films like this. Hopefully it will go on.

The negative points however are little too plenty in Beyond Hypothermia. Lau Ching Wan's character is the most irritating one as it is so badly written and feels very unnecessary too. There are no motivations or explanations for his simple-mindedness and why he at one points even admits being "too stupid" and why his character develops during the end scene so fast and unbelievably, screaming and running without any explanations in the script to make it look believable. Also the love affair between the two should have been written more carefully and her feelings handled like in similarly themed French film La Femme Nikita (Luc Besson, 1990) for example. Also the body temperature thing seems to be there just to give the film a great title BUT it can also be seen as a pretty clever metaphor for the girl's lack of feelings and emotions because of her inhuman cold past and violent world she's lived in.

The music during the action scenes is also somewhat unfitting as it makes the otherwise very serious and brutal scenery look a little too light and distantly entertaining. Those scenes could have been done more effectively without music at all. Also some of the plot turns feel a little too easy and incredible as how can things like those happen so fast in a big city and everyone can be found always so easily? The finale, no matter how effective after all is still little too traditional as the guys just seem to meet in the streets as if they had planned it earlier.

One extremely positive thing to finish this review is about the beginning of the piece that belongs to the most effective, interesting and nailing beginnings I've ever seen. That is the kind of beginning to hook the viewer from the very first seconds! Also the circle-like structure of the film makes it all the more impressive and, as the conclusion and film's themes have become clear, shocking, harrowing and breathtaking.

Beyond Hypothermia is one extremely interesting and noteworthy piece even with its flaws and it could have been a bright (or dark, that is) masterpiece if the mentioned things would have been corrected. This is still on the same level with the more flawless Milky Way films and will strike fiercely everytime it is experienced. 6/10


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