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234 reviews in total 
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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: All's Well Ends Well 2011, 30 March 2011

Not bad, but not good either...

Fun is a difficult word to define. For me, All's Well Ends Well just stopped working for me, the moment Stephen Chow decided to disappear. The formula of these films is more of the same, which is quite frankly nothing special. Therefore, what made these films fun, is easily Stephen Chow. With the turn of the century, Mr. Chow is replaced by Louis Koo and ever since, the film series have just went downhill. While Louis Koo is a fine looker and part time tanning specialist, his comic timing relies more on overacting and in this case, acting gay and feminine. While the addition of Donnie Yen adds something to the picture, the film seems to have lost its touches. Perhaps, Raymond Chow should look at a different direction and return to its roots to film something about Hong Kong people and what they actually want.

When the highlight of the movie is the sight of Donnie Yen using Wing Chun to perform a makeup stunt in front of a group of "Se Lai", you probably realise the movie isn't exactly that hot shot. What I personally like about Lunar New Year movies is that the number of stars that we get to see in one single movie. In effect, the movie should be mindless fun and plays like a celebration party. However, this film fails to even do that. Another moment of happiness is seeing the much missed Cecilia Cheung back in action. Cheung is amazing to watch and luckily she has a crying sequence to boot. Stephy Tang also appears, but is wasted in a cameo with no more than 2 sentences. Carina Lau seems to be in her 2046 mode and is more annoying than amusing. Chapman To once again steal the show with a fine supporting comic turn.

All in all, All's Well, Ends Well is meant to be a stargazing affair; however, the film fails to the fun factor and loses out to the fresher Hong Kong style approach in TVB and Shaw Brothers co-production in the likes of I Love Hong Kong and All's Well, Ends Well 2011. Still, it is always fun to stargaze, but apart from that, this film offers very little. Basically, this film is neither good nor bad as it is what I boldly call – passable entertainment...(Neo 2011)

I rate it 5/10


3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: I Love Hong Kong, 30 March 2011

Refreshing, fun, but fall just short of last year's 72 Tenants of Prosperity...

Lunar New Year comedies take note; I Love Hong Kong shows all the ingredients that makes it the best of the 2011's lot. Sure there are incoherences, numerous stargazing (notably most coming out of TVB), but where other fails and the current film succeeds in delivering a film about Hong Kong people, history and its core values. Directed by Eric Tsang and funded by TVB and Shaw Brothers, I Love Hong Kong oozes the same principle as last year's refreshingly successful 72 Tenants of Prosperity and delivers something more of the same.

Then again, it is hard to go wrong with established stable of leading comedians, in the likes of veterans Tony Leung Ka Fai, Eric Tsang, Sandra Kwan, Anita Yuen and 80's favourite Stanley Fung. What made this film works is quite frankly the chemistry and fun that these actors deliver. Despite being a New Year flick, I Love Hong Kong tries hard to stay grounded and a welcoming attempt to re-create the 60s and 70s working class life in Hong Kong. Added points must be given to a creative recreation of a scene from the Mission. This is surely a refreshing and funny moment for all Hong Kong cinema followers.

All in all, I Love Hong Kong works because it doesn't try to be pretentious, but rather creating some Hong Kong defining laughs, character and fun. It's been a while since Hong Kong's New Year tradition have achieved this kind of refreshing affair. It is should be complimented that TVB and Shaw Brothers have brought us not one but two in successive years. If this is the new direction, then I am happy for Raymond Chow to retire. So basically, if you are into stargazing (both film and TV stars) and wants a decent attempt at making you laugh, refresh and enjoy, then I Love Hong Kong fits your bill perfectly. One thumbs up...(Neo 2011)

I rate it 7/10


9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: What Women Want, 30 March 2011

A superficial remake of Hollywood counterpart...

Although, What Women Want is what you proclaim as efficient, it is not a movie that affects or has any effect on you. At least that is the case, if you have seen the far superior Hollywood movie starring Mel Gibson. The problem is not the story, but rather the way the film is directed. There is absolutely no creativity or ambition, instead what the audience receive is a safe scene by scene re-dux into Chinese. If not for the attractiveness and on-screen presence of the leads, Andy Lau and Gong Li, the film would be almost unwatchable. With the two, What Women Want gets attention and with attention comes a decently made, polish production values and purely commercialised Mainland product.

One of the Achilles heels of this movie is the pairing of Gong Li and Andy Lau. There is absolutely no love chemistry in the pairing. If there is any sort of chemistry it will be that of brotherly and sisterly love. In effect, the film is doomed to have any chance of real success when the main romantic leads fail the first hurdle. In saying that, whenever the two is on-screen, there is an automatic "big star" presence about them. This not only lifts the movie up a notch, but makes the film a watchable affair from start to finish without lurking into boredom.

All in all, What Women Want is not a bad movie, in fact is more into the positive territory than not. The fact is that it is inevitable that any remake will be compare with its predecessor and in this case, the Hollywood original actually worked in all departments and even manages to convince. Sometimes, a safe bet is reasonable, but to copy scene by scene, it just lacks any sort of creativity that could have made the film better than it is. Using the idea and premises of knowing what women is feeling rather than a carbon copy can be a start. Still, What Women Want is an efficient and largely average entertain that does not ignite or fails. Watch the original, before indulging into this hugely average affair...(Neo 2011)

I rate it 6/10


HK Neo Reviews: I'll Call You, 17 March 2011

Witty postmodern romance...

Once in a while, an unexpectedly good HK movie surprises you like a beautiful surprise. I'll Call You is a film produced and funded by HK superstar Andy Lau's Focus Films, which is giving young filmmakers around Asia an opportunity to shoot HD films. The director is here is the unlikely fat guy from Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle's fame and surprising he made a highly enjoyable and highly intelligent film. These are words that are not normally associated with romantic comedies, but this is one heck of a beautiful little film that explores the notion into modern romance without being cliché. It is stunning as it is simple yet witty and at times very relevant to the lives of many 20-30 year old. Fat Guy, directs this flick with signature style and flair, and combining obvious inspiration from classed filmmakers, Fat Guy shot this film with a comic touch, yet hiding a sentimental feel benefit the surface. Alex Fong who marks his debut with this film, shows a natural role of himself and relatively newcomer Viann Leung is uniformly pitch perfect as a new age HK girl.

New fresh ideas is what HK cinema needs, and this flick is definitely raw and fresh, much praise must be given to Andy Lau for funding flicks for independent movies such as these. Fat Guy surprises me to the max and created a worthwhile movie experience. His panning shot is brilliant and at times resembles high art direction and his ingenious influence from Stephen Chow is quite frankly obvious as things appears out of the blue such as Andy Lau singing is a stroke of comic genius. There are obvious flaws associated with the work, but the pros by far outweigh the cons. Alex Fong misstep in his other movie – Marriage With a Fool, but here his performance is top rated and immensely natural. All credit to the Fat Guy here, who uses his limited resources competently and the opening PC game like scoring system of winning a girl is clearly another well though out idea.

This flick emphasis on romance, and yet under no circumstances does it seem cliché at all. Unlike typical romantic comedies, this flick tries to explore deeper into the feelings of the pair and the reasons behind each actions. Everything happens for a reason in this world, while Viann Leung is clearly playing around with Alex, sympathies are not directly towards Alex, but rather moving towards Viann's flawed yet cute character. She is perhaps, one of those typical HK girls you see at clubbing, who wants to have fun and enjoy the dose of partying. Fat Guy wittingly explores this notion into her character and the finale is brilliantly staged. One may think they can escape the jail by digging a hole, only to realize afterward that the hole leads back to where we came from.

Alex Fong puts in a layered performance, from being dumb and played around by Viann, matures as he goes through his life experiences. A truly flawed, yet natural performance from the former swimming champion; clearly fueled with potential. Viann Leung performs her best in a role that is not easy to handle, she is carefree, fun loving and yet the audience continues to like her. She is cute, and charming without being beautiful, complements her performance here with a natural flair. Andy Lau appears here and there in an amusing cameo.

In the flick, Gordon Lam said a few thoughtful lines – if you want to do it, do it now, then you might ask – what happens next? You will know the next step after you take the first step. Simple as it seems, it is extremely relevant, as it expresses the notion of modern romance. Words and actions can change someone's life and the Fat Guy directed a small piece of gem here. Perhaps what Fat Guy wants to say is that technology has changed the way love is and for better or for worst, people no longer treasure those in front of you as much as in the past, as we constantly attempts to seek for a better half. Neo is not easily pleased, but this production impressed me, just as it surprised me. Expecting a cliché, romantic comedy, what turned out to be one of the best movies of 2006 and perhaps one of the best romantic comedies in years. This is exactly the reason why I continue to watch HK movies, because once in a while it surprises you with fresh new ideas. Fat Guy, well done and as a birthday gift for me, Neo really liked this… (Neo 2006)

I rate it 9/10


Isabella (2006)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Isabella, 17 March 2011

Simply beautiful...

Edmond Pang is not the next anything, but rather a bright new hope of the next decade for HK cinema. After 4 out of 4 good witty films, Pang dilutes his wittiness for art, yet still capturing the mood of his style. Pang is an expert storyteller and his ingeniousness use of voice over apes Wong Kar Wai, but also keeping a constant mood within the characters while capturing the romantic affairs of Macau. Like Wong, the movie emphasis on time, love and the film music score, but Pang is by far different and far more playful and witty. The film success isn't exactly due to the storyline, but rather the beautiful performance of Isabella and a career breakthrough role for the unfairly underrated cameo specialist – Chapman To which both combines well with Pang's romantic vision through the lens into the city of Macau.

Pang is clearly an ingenious director, who realizes that calling Isabella the same name would be a cliché, but rather changes the title role to a dog. This in turn gives a further depth to a beautiful piece of painting. Perhaps the most important aspect of Pang's image is the music score itself. It defines the film, the actors, the director and ultimately the audience. The score is heartfelt and beautiful to endure and perhaps the best fitting film score since 2046. The sense of loneliness, enduring, cheerful, carefree is all combined with the ultimately mood of a romantic.

After a career suicide in Bug Me Not, a movie for mentally disabled people, Isabella proves the economic theory about for "every low, there will always be a high" correct. Isabella's performance echoes Karena Lam in her award winning debut as a natural high school-er in July Rhapsody. Isabella is clearly natural and for the first time, Neo actually reckons she is pretty. Her looks are menacing to resist and her youthfulness is played with a matured and controlled temperament as she pulls off a nomination worthy performance. As for Chapman To, an actor who Neo have found funny and likable in the past proves his potential of being a serious dramatic actor. Chapman is a likable comic genius and is clearly underrated by various critics/audience who labeled him as "annoying", "filling up space", "a waste of time", despite pulling off memorable performances in Moonlight in Tokyo, Infernal Affairs, Colour of Truth and Initial D. Chapman depicts a corrupt cop who slowly resist and accepts the knowledge of a daughter is one of maturity and sympathetic performance.

Isabella is a beautiful movie to endure and while it isn't Pang most accessible film, it nonetheless fills the most vital ingredients of an art movie – the feel and the mood. Pang tackles upon issues of controversy in a light hearted and playful manner while being serious at the same time. The city of Macau isn't really that romantic, as it is in fact filled with gamblers, prostitutes, triads and corruption. This is another reason why Edmond Pang hits his marks so cleanly and artfully, despite the fact that most scenes are so clearly staged – think Isabella lying on the bed posing – doesn't that rings 2046's Maggie Cheung? Pang also plays with the idea of a probable incest and here he ingeniously filmed the scene with a tone of juxtaposing comic and seriousness – think about it – you just have sex with a random girl you met at a bar and the next thing you realize – she is actually your daughter? Isabella isn't a film of plot and twists as Pang's previous ones, but like Wong Kar Wai, it is all about the mood and the feel that it ultimately conveys. It isn't the most flawless movie, but yet at the same time the flaws are not obvious and frequently hided behind the magnificent mood created by the powerful music score. Overall, Isabella is what I embrace as a beautiful little movie that gives the "feel"… (Neo 2006)

I rate it 9/10


0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Heavenly Mission, 17 March 2011

Chan Ho Nam finally matures…

Who can forget all those moments of seeing Ekin Cheng as his alter ego – Chan Ho Nam in the Young and Dangerous series? It is true that whether it is intended to or not, this flick is one that shows the life of Chan Ho Nam – 10 years on and finally growing up to be a better man. The question remains, can someone truly turn a new leaf, and perhaps to put it into a bigger picture, imagine a cool blooded killer becoming the next CEO of IBM? Such an analogy seems far-fetched, but rhymes true as it is social norm to not believe it can happen. Directed by James Yuen, the person behind the refreshing – Crazy N the City, it is little wonder that they both want to express something about life, perhaps a message. While Crazy N the City succeeds in being realistic, believable and even at times inspiring, the same can not be said of Heavenly Mission as good intention does not make a realistic movie.

Ekin Cheng has come a long way since his Young and Dangerous days and it is almost impossible to not associate him with Chan Ho Nam. It is slack that 10 years on, people continue to laud about his past non-acting style, and as hard as he have attempted to shed that image, people still remember him for that role. While Neo can not state that Ekin is a talented actor, but he can certainly be safe to say that he have improved. While he may never be a great actor, Ekin is yet to be given an opportunity to act in a beefy role. Here, Ekin is basically himself and perhaps a more mature version of Chan Ho Nam. It is fitting for him to paid tribute to a role that made him famous, but his almost non-acting and stoic performance here, made the movie impossible to connect. It can be partly due to the unrealistic nature of the script, but nonetheless, the film never reaches the heights of what they want to express.

There moments of enlightenment and giving out a reminder that Yuen did direct the inspirational Crazy N the City. Ekin flirtation with the blind chick played by the newly acclaimed (this site's Best Actress in My Name is Fame), Huo Siyan, provides a memorable explanation of what is good and evil. She denotes that when you close your eyes, you cannot distinguish what is black and white. She goes about how good people can do bad things, and bad people can do good deeds. These are rare moments of inspiration, but sadly it never seems to connect towards the audience through pictures rather than words.

Stephen Fung appears here and there and produces one of his coolest, yet producing an undemanding performance. Niki Chow does nothing either than being pretty. However, Alex Fong portrays the role of a cop in a suitable fashion as director Yuen uses Fong to comment about the treatment of past offenders. It leads us back to the central question of whether or not past offenders can really turn over a new leaf. The movie leaves the audience wondering if it was the police's fault for thinking that Ekin will do something bad, since he was a triad. The film ultimately wants to express the notion of good and evil and how difficult it is to change someone perception of you, once their mind is set on a way of thinking.

All in all, Heavenly Mission is immensely solid, but the result is rather disappointing as the flick never seems to be able to connect to its audience. Sure, it has something meaningful to say, but it is pointless to express an ideal without much substance to back it up. If Ekin wants to shed his former image, and using this film's core as an example, it will seem pretty much impossible. James Yuen has done better and probably should have done better. Nonetheless, this is still an extremely solid flick that ends up just a tat too lacking. On a final note, so can Ekin shed his former image – to be perfectly honest, perhaps… (Neo 2006)

I rate it 6.5/10


HK Neo Reviews: Half Twins, 17 March 2011

Good Chemistry, BAD movie...

Half Twins is a cheesy title and likewise, so is its substance. A plot that seems to be as disposable as HK movies, cheesy supporting actors and laughable production values. Yes, there is the redeeming factors of seeing the new found chemistry between two veteran actors - Candy Lo and Eric Kot. After appearing as in-separate couples even after break up in Cocktail, the director smartly capitalize on this, but the movie is dull. When a script is half-written, half baked and half funded production, the result is clear - cheesy and uninspiring. There are moments that sort of redeeming the movies, like those moments of Eric and Candy tomorrow, but other than that there is nothing to be excited about. It is predictable and definitely not memorable.

Candy Lo shows some much needed presence and her acting is now mature and occasionally showing off her natural style. An underrated actress by all means, Lo isn't genuinely pretty, but surely adequate enough. Her chemistry with Eric is the one thing to catch in this flick. It's natural and beautiful to watch. Eric Kot shows a mature performance once again. After his terrific role in Butterfly and again in Cocktail, Kot have grown to be become a dramatic actor. An talented comedian, is an even better dramatic actor. Maybe it is his beard, or whatever, it is a job well done. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the others. They are crap and not even worth mentioning. They adds more cheesiness to an already cheesy movie.

There really isn't anything worth seeing in this flick apart from the chemistry of Eric and Candy. Its a shame that they are suitably wasted by both the director and the script. The movie doesn't exactly edge to the point of boredom, but on a scale of excitement one to ten, two is getting close. It is exactly the sort of movie that HK cinema does not need and more importantly wasting Neo's previous time altogether. Yes, I am into Korean movies at the moment, but HK movies is still very much a place in my heart, that's if movies are better than this. I mean, far better than this...(Neo 2006)

I rate it 5.5/10


Fearless (2006)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Fearless, 17 March 2011

Jet Li is Fok Yuen Gap! Of all the actors that Neo admired, there is one that he admired the most and can almost boast to be the only actor that Neo have watched every single one of his movies and this great talent is Jet Li. Perhaps, it is his heroic roles that made me a fan, but really it is his fighting abilities and unique on screen presence that made him such a respectable character. Recalling the days when I watched my first ever Jet Li's movie - Fist of Legend, it reminded me of Chinese pride and more importantly it sparked myself into HK cinema fascination. It was Li, not Jackie Chan that got me into HK cinema and now with the rumor-like announce of partial retirement by Mr. Jet Li, it is fittingly that a long time fan paid tribute to what has been a brilliant career by any standards. In his latest blockbuster - Fearless, Li has matured and his philosophy into life is all the more evident and after years of talking about - "violence without violence" on his own official website, his insight in the world of wushu have finally emerged to audience around the globe. This is a period flick and a fittingly finale as Li's final wushu movie, as the plot isn't deliver by fighting physically, but rather - the true meaning of martial arts - fighting a battle in our hearts. This is no ordinary action blockbuster, but one that reinforce my race, nationality and finally - pride of being a Chinese.

While one may call Li's best is behind him - OUATIC series, Fong Sai Yuk, Fist of Legend, Swordsman 2 and more recently Hero, it may well be physically, but his acting has improved and matured. In what I will label as Li's most difficult role - as he played 2 very different characters - Fong Sai Yuk's carefree style in the beginning to respected hero in the form of Wong Fei Hung at the end. His range was naturally forced and his critically acclaimed stoic face provides a much hidden message behind a great man - Fok Yuen Gaap. In an age where all action movies are seamlessly cliché with a main bad villain that the hero is trying to beat, Fearless heads up the standard to be above the rest, by not having any true villain, but rather expressing a deep and profound message - the biggest enemy is indeed ourselves. Winning isn't everything, and being able to beat someone physically does not make you superior, but rather winning in your heart is far more important.

Surely a Jet Li's movie can not be without brilliant fight scenes and once again Li and Yuen Woo Ping is a perfect combination. Woo Ping is perhaps the best fight director and somehow his best is always within a Jet Li's movie. Li is flawless and perhaps is still very much in his prime and his personal charisma can not be doubted. His steer presence alone is amazing and if they is one actor who don the half bald head more naturally, it must be Jet Li. Maybe, he was born for that period or maybe he is at his best with that hairstyle.

Actress Sun Li performs with just enough grace and cuteness for us to care about her character, while it may seem forced to have such a cliché redeeming character, in Fearless it just sort of clicks. The both Li shared a reasonable chemistry and if only more time is spent in this part, the movie emotional core might even go further. However, what made this movie works is definitely a return to form by Hollywood-converted - Ronny Yu. Just like most biography flicks, the audience probably already know the fate of the hero - so how can you make someone feel the emotions when they already know the result. That is exactly the genius of Yu, and on the way he created a new type of action movie - its not about fighting and kicking ass, but about the heart and spirit of the game, nation and pride. In dealing with patriotic senses - proud of being Chinese, Yu has pressed all the right buttons for an utterly terrific yet emotionally manipulative finale. Yu really knows how to finish off, as if it was delivered by a lesser director the movie may have a very different value and perception.

Certainly the fights are amazing to endure - Big Guy vs Jet Li and the finale honorable Japanese vs Jet Li fight, but the most amazing of all is not the hardcore fighting, but the moral message about the true art of wushu that it is delivering. Fighting and hurting others physically will not solve any problems, but rather creates further problems that one can not imagine - anger leads to revenge and finally to murder and deaths. In a way it is true that people learn from their mistakes, but perhaps Jet Li learned a lesson that was much too harsh - sure he was rash, ambitious and unforgiving, but he certainly did not deserve his fate. However, it is human nature to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, until it finally hits you in the heart that you began to change. Life isn't about winning this and winning that, but it is about the human spirit, proud of who you are, being confidence yet without overdoing it, and quite frankly and directly the biggest enemy is indeed yourself. Li taught us a worthy lesson and in the process also entertained us with an epic. Sure the title is Fok Yuen Gap, but to me, this movie isn't so much about Fok, but rather Li as a character, his life and his true spirit of wushu... In other words, Neo loved it! (Neo 2006)

I rate it 10/10


HK Neo Reviews: Fatal Contact, 17 March 2011

Wu Jing equals Jet Li, well not - just yet…

After last year's scene stealing performance as an assassin in the now acclaimed – Sha Po Long, Wu Jing is now the tiny territory's lone martial arts future. His skills and fluency are second to none and his reputation of training in the same school as Jet Li only furthers this compliment. With that being said, Wu Jing still have miles to go, before he should even be compared to the later superstar, as his acting is still stiff and lack any sort of emotional impact. Sure, his death stare role in SPL can do wonders, but this is a leading role that we are talking about and as likable as Wu Jing is, he does not have the on-screen presence of Jet Li – just yet. Luckily, whatever acting talents that Wu lacks, is duly compensated, by the comic presence of everyone's love and hate – Ronald Cheng and the increasing cuteness of his fellow female co-stars in Miki and Theresa. There are definitely moments of exceptionally well choreographed fight sequences that will make you – wow and wah, but ultimately the movie fails to connect as director Dennis Law resorts to a cliché filled end. Just like, most HK movies, it just doesn't finish off with a bang! The movie goes like this: Wu Jing plays a Peking opera actor and former national martial-art champion, who makes a short visit to Hong Kong and is lured to join in the underground boxing ring. While winning matches one after the other, he is also sinking deeper and deeper into the dangerous game.

Director Dennis Law is a strange newcomer, as he ventures into two completely different genres of film making one being Love @ First Note and the other being this one. The former one is obviously a sweet romantic comedy, about two not so-good-looking guy and girl - somehow getting together and somehow fitting a couple of promotional music video for Justin Lo, but here, Law moves to action and in displaying action, he is not afraid to show the full brutality of the punches and that alone is a success. There is potential in this lad, and hopefully, Law will be given more opportunities and freedom which can only head one direction - as he will only get better.

Fatal Contact isn't just a film about underground fighting, but Law attempts to show the darkness of the business and the fact that no matter whom you are, you are never in control of yourself. Winning might win you money, but the moment you enter into this black fist underworld, there is only one way out – death. It might seem a rather simple message, but at the very least it seems more realistic then most of the romantic comedies these days. There is a scene where Wu Jing was fighting Andy On, in a fight that almost met his death. It is this very moment that Wu Jing has transformed into a monster – no longer human and no longer humane. By entering this world, Wu have not only betrayed himself physically, but mentally and internally. Basically, Law is trying to say two words – dead end.

Having impressed Neo immensely in b420, Miki is a more than capable actress, and here, she is both convincing yet unconvincing, but that's partly for the director to be blamed. She engages the audience well in her scenes with Wu Jing, and even overshadowing his mainlander speaking canto accent. There are times where you feel you understand her character and then it all go downhill and eventually a forced resolution where the director preferred to take the route frequently taken. Ronald Cheng is funny and likable, but is wasted in a supporting that can be played by almost everybody and most notably Chapman To. You either love him or hate him, but here you just want to see more of him and his comic antics. Theresa appears here and there as a "chicken" and further emphasizing the darkness of the underworld.

All in all, Fatal Contact is a brutal, realistic and fluent fighting sequence and combines well with the deep yet simple message about the downfall of humanity and that anyone can be corrupted. However, like many other HK movies before him, director Dennis Law fails big time, by going the route of the clichés and the processes is destroying a movie that could have offered so much more. With that being said, both Law and Wu are still young and fresh talents and both have moments of greatness within the flick, even if it is not wholly consistent. Still, this is a credible effort and fights sequences that stand well alongside Sha Po Long and heck this isn't a bad movie after all. Let's hope that this movie will be remembered as the one that launched Wu Jing into a Jet Li and Dennis Law into a Corey Yuen – well at least we can hope… (Neo 2006)

I rate it 7.5/10


Exiled (2006)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
HK Neo Reviews: Exiled, 16 March 2011

A fitting homage to himself – Johnnie To…

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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