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When an ambulatory TV news unit live broadcasts the embarrassing defeat of a police battalion by five bank robbers in a ballistic showdown, the credibility of the police force drops to a nadir. While on a separate investigation in a run-down building, detective Cheung discovers the hideout of the robbers. Cheung and his men have also entered the building, getting ready to take their foes out any minute. Meanwhile, in order to beat the media at its own game, Inspector Rebecca decides to turn the stakeout into a breaking news show. Written by
The script is twisted and not exactly what you consider state-of-the-art in terms of European or American cinema. But it's Johnny To, so you know what you'll get. The cinematography is brilliant, the acting unfortunately mediocre, it isn't as intense as in Johnny To's last movie "Throwdown". But still I like this one better, for the Honk Kong pictures and the astonishing opening scene which was filmed uninterrupted for just about five minutes including camera elevations, camera entering appartments, a decent shoot out and a lot of 180° turns without any single cut. The staging of the action in the giant apartment building is tense and gives a disorientation that prepares you for any surprise. Gangsters on floor 9/C. Police on floor 8/B. But they need minutes to clash and one never knows what comes next. After short shootings everyone spreads in another direction and the situation is anything but clear. This is big cinema and gives a new idea how action and tension can be staged besides boring Hollywood standards. This movie owes greatly to the atmosphere of Hong Kong. Crowded streets, huge apartment blocks with the air conditions sticking out like giant bee hives, big limos... and not to forget all the different branches of HK police that always seem to quarrel with each other rather than fighting criminals. If anyone could explain the different branches of HK police and how they interact, feel free to send me an e-mail. There is no good and bad in this movie as the gangsters reveal sympathetic traits of character while cooking for the family taken hostage - they would have become rather cooks and own a restaurant than being "uncle killer" and "uncle bandit". The police appears to be completely disoriented and rather eager to get publicity than fighting the "bad" guys who are especially clever to use the media in their favor. The movie is probably ment as a satire on public organs such as the police and the manipulation of today's mass media to influence public opinion. As I'm no big philosopher I'm gonna stop evaluating right here. For all HK fans and everyone that enjoys a nice camera work including some shoot outs - you definitely have to watch this movie. I had the honor to attend a screening of this movie during the VIENNALE in Vienna on the giant "Gartenbau Kino" Screen.
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