A police unit, led nominally by Simon Yam and smokey-eyed Lau Ching-Wan, pursue two gangs, each heavily armed and dangerous, not least of all to themselves. Expect the Unexpected begins conventionally enough, but a nudge to the plot here, a detail of characterization there, and the odd bit of unexpected humour, and before long the story is in territory at once familiar and unfamiliar. For the viewer the results are nothing less than exhilarating, like seeing an over-familiar genre through fresh, new eyes.
One interesting touch for a HK film released in May 1998: the mainland Chinese in one gang had come to Hong Kong due to economic difficulties back home. (One government, two systems in effect?)
Cacine Wong's routine and seemingly off-the-cuff soundtrack was the only really jarring element to Expect the Unexpected (the effects of low budget filmmaking in HK being pretty much a given these days). Other film scores by Wong include the very good spaghetti eastern-sounding Peace Hotel, co-written with Healthy Poon, and the equally good neo-noirish Too Many Ways to be Number One.
Your best chance of seeing Expect the Unexpected is on video or in a rep theater. But however you see it, and whether you come in expecting the unexpected, I think you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.
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