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The time is 1998. The setting is Macau. Every living soul jumps at every chance to make quick money before the Portuguese colony ushers in a new era under the Chinese rule. For the jaded hit men, they wonder where this journey will end. Against this backdrop come two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member trying to turn over a new leaf with his wife and newborn baby. They soon find themselves in the throes of a dilemma when two of their former associates also show up, intent on thwarting them at every cost. Written by
Johnnie To is a heck of an amazing director and without a single question of doubt, Exiled is very much a movie that is all about himself Johnnie To. It doesn't really make a difference as to whether or not this movie is a sequel to The Mission, as it stands on its own feet more than adequate enough. Exiled is a perfect example of a Johnnie To movie and perhaps a movie that is paying homage to his vast library of work. The action is stylish, the actors are well drawn and indeed the direction is almost perfect. It certainly isn't To's most important movie, but Exiled shares a lot of his themes. With an outstanding cast, ranging from leading roles to cameo performances, To have created a movie dream for his fans. Those that never liked To's crime thriller, will not have their opinion turned around, but for people like Neo, it is a beautiful experience.
The movie goes like this: Wo (Nick Cheung), a gangster who went into exile for a few years after attempting to kill Boss Fay (Simon Yam), returns to Macau with his wife (Josie Ho) and their newborn baby, hoping to settle down. There he meets his four friends, two commissioned by Boss Fay to kill him and the other two coming to aid him. The five hit men open the film with a carefully designed gunfight that brings out both enormous tension and peculiar elegance.
It must be worth noting that full credit must be given to the actors of this flick. Anthony Wong showed exactly why he is one of the best actors in HK. The ease of his performance lies in his simple acting method and yet it is still so damn effective. There some highlighting scenes that involves the ever dependable Francis Ng, who is probably one of the few actors in the world that can overact and still is just as menacing to watch. A regular in almost all Johnnie To's flicks, Lam Suet is once again the laughing stock and his comic timing is all the more welcomed. Who can forget Simon Yam's expression, when he realizes that he got shot in the penis? A funny moment of cinema and when that can happen, you just know that Johnnie To is in top form tonight. Recent additions to To's cast of actors, include the ever improving Nick Cheung and the underrated Richie Ren. Cheung has definitely matured under the direction of this master of crime dramas. The movie moves along at a brisk pace and within every shot, you can almost sense, the art of Johnnie To.
Perhaps, I have been referring to the director more than about the movie itself, but don't get me wrong, this is very much a movie filled with To's usual trademarks and ultra simple yet effective soundtrack. What's so great about Exiled, is that you won't give a thing about whether the movie is believable or not, as the ride alone is so smooth and entertaining to endure. May be, you really have to love To's art of directing, before you can fully embrace the beauty of his work. Each gun shots remind the audience of an aspect of his past efforts and the shot of the red bull can seamlessly flying through the air in slow motion sets the tone of the gunplay. It is fascinating to realize that it is only in recent years that To's talent is finally recognized internationally.
All in all, Exiled isn't really a film that requires any sort of reviews, as it is very much a film for the fans of the filmmaker. In some movies, you can always identify the flaws, but somehow, for this particular movie, it is seemingly impossible to do so. Everything seemed so perfect and even the impossible seems so possible. To have created something special and perhaps it is feeling that might not occur again. It is a movie that allows the audience to relax and sit through in an enjoyable afternoon and lifting up their feet onto the table. It is that relaxing and at the same time, allowing the audience to constantly reflect. Johnnie To loves the toss of a coin and seems to suggest that fate exists in life. It is ironic out about some extremely random or minor characters always succeeds in the world of To the chick ends up with a bucket load of gold, when everyone else is down on the floor. It is an aspect of filmmaking that will only work in a Johnnie To's film, showing that luck and being at the right place of the time, plays an important role in the determination of your life. Exiled is a heck of beautiful film and by the end of the film, as ironic as it seems to be somehow a smile will appear at the edge of your face (Neo 2006)
I rate it 9/10
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