Lackluster in comparison to some of To's other early crime thrillers, but on its own merits makes for an enjoyable tale of gritty cops n' robbers drama.
Personally when it comes to Johnnie To's early crime movies I find Ching Wan Lau character in "The Longest Nite" and "Running Out of Time" much more artfully crafted and intriguing. Similarly I favor Simon Yam in To's "The Mission" and "Fulltime Killer". I didn't fully accept the chemistry between Yam and Lau in this feature, which granted it is sufficient to deliver the plot, but in my opinion it just never reached the competitive potential it could have been. Regardless of where this movie ranks on To's overall filmography, it is still worth a watch as the tension is fierce and keeps the audience interested from start to finish.
It's a heist movie, and with a title like "Expect the Unexpected" it's going to have some twists. Good news, the twists do deliver. I won't mention any details about the plot because the synopsis is unbelievably simple as are the synopses for most of To's films, but the director's execution and his ability to gain strong feedback from the actors makes the viewing experience worthwhile. It does have some serious flaws though, my biggest complaint besides the chemistry between the two male leads are the amount of tonal shifts present. A romance subplot is thrown in, and the action scenes meshed with the romantic scenes don't blend very well. The movie takes the viewer through an unnecessary emotional roller coaster due to this romance subplot, and I feel it could have been handled in a more subtle manner, but that's always easier to say looking back in hindsight. -6/10
Johnnie To once again does an excellent job delivering a solid crime thriller which is still enjoyable to watch 15 years later. Didn't care for the premise but other fans might. Once again also from 1998 and by Johnnie To, I prefer "The Longest Nite" with Tony Leung and Ching Wan Lau, as I find this thriller haunting and much more effective with its twists. If you enjoy Expect the Unexpected definitely give the other a watch as they go hand in hand, and may To continue to do what he does best in the coming years. Thanks for reading.
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