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Let's skip the formalities and build up, Exodus is a capable addition to Hong Kong's minimal catalogue of conspiratorial psychedelia, and even though it also stars Simon Yam, it actually gets the job done very well, unlike his bigger release from last year, Eye in the Sky.
Yam returns to his cop roots for another foray, but here we have one of the city's more recognizable actors in a decidedly indie release that's not very well known and has been given none of the limelight treatment many lesser releases have received.
Exodus is a tense, paranoid affair with an undercurrent of madness that's very subtle. There's nothing overwhelming about the story or action, but after watching the whole thing you'll have to reflect and conclude it was well worth the time and effort.
So, we have Simon Yam as a cop again. Sure, but not the glamorous type he's done in many instances in the past, but rather a regular beat walker of twenty years, with apparently no ambition and even less sympathy from his superiors. This Sgt. Tsim happens to be married to a wealthy young woman (Annie Liu from Ah Sou), complete with a mother in law that's quite the nag, going on and on about how a real man should have his own business, etc.
Tsim (full name Tsim Kin-Yip, which probably has more than one meaning if you ask the filmmakers) is posted to suburban Tai Po, an area that offers several interestingly desolate and rundown location opportunities. One evening, or night, Tsim takes over a deposition from another cop, only to realize he's happened on a corker: alleged sex maniac Kwan Ping Man (excellent Nick Cheung) was arrested for some peeping tom action, but claims to be investigating a wide conspiracy by women to kill all men.
As ludicrous as this may sound, Tsim immediately warms to the notion, and begins to look into matters. He also starts to notice a variety of clues and other suspicious occurrences around him, a gradual process the movie does very well. There's almost no drama Exodus is about subtlety, and this it achieves marvelously. The transition into paranoia and conspiracy-spotting is seamless.
I won't spoil it for you, but there are a few minor surprises along the way. The main thing here is the viable mood and very flowing storytelling that Exodus pulls off. It's a rarity in Hong Kong these days, and in fact has always been: for the surreal, one always had to turn to the mainland or Taiwan, HK has always been almost entirely about the fast and the cashious, even in its movies. But when this one opens and what you get are a bunch of barely-clothed guys beating up a hapless victim with hammers while wearing goggles and snorkels, well, you can't help but nod the nod of warm acceptance.
Plus, we also have the long-awaited return of leggy actress Irene Wan, who's on board and carries out her duties well.
Director Edmond Pang (credited as Pang Ho-Cheung) has delivered the goods, making sure the film features a multitude of elements to ensure multiple viewings become warranted: for example, this reviewer would like to know why there's so much eating going on in Exodus? Seriously, of its ninety minutes, at least ten are spent taking in food.
Go figure it out it'll be rewarding.
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