A French chef swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Hong Kong, during which her husband and her two children are murdered. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia.
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
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 ... See full summary »
Police inspector and excellent hostage negotiator Ho Sheung-Sang finds himself in over his head when he is pulled into a 72 hour game by a cancer suffering criminal out for vengeance on Hong Kong's organized crime Syndicates.
Three people - a criminal, a bank officer and a cop - end up in a catastrophic situation in the midst of a global economical crisis and are forced to betray any morals and principles to solve their financial problems.
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
Mainstream Asian cinema owes as much to Hollywood as mainstream cinema anywhere in the world. Hollywood perfected cinematic storytelling in the 30's and 40's and its influence is still present in practically everything we watch. The transition from Hong Kong to Hollywood has elevated (or destroyed, depending who you ask) the careers of many directors and actors: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, John Woo and Tsui Hark to name a few. To his credit, one director has avoided the calling of the West and remained in Hong Kong not only to buoy HK cinema, but also to redefine himself as perhaps the most interesting of all mainstream Asian filmmakers.
Johnny To may be the only HK filmmaker who possibly owes as much to Jean-Luc Godard as he does to Hollywood. As such, the similarities between To's films and Tarantino's are impossible to disregard and, like Tarantino, To elevates the tired clichés and conventions of genre pics (the same traits John Woo is (sac)religiously married to) into revisionist works of art. But To's influences don't begin and end with Godard and Exiled hammers this home since it is crammed full of references to Leone's famous Spaghetti Westerns and also to the classic John Ford Westerns that made John Wayne a household name. Make no mistake about it, Exiled is a Western and even though it masquerades as a HK triad shoot em' up, every single detail on the screen is cherry picked from Westerns.Exiled is a good example of how a film can, at first, smack of familiarity before taking off on a fresh, uncharted flight of fiction. Despite a few clunky sequences and some thin writing, Exiled will not only be hailed by To fans as one of his best films, it will also find converts thanks to its Triad trimmings (and those in search of a post-modern Western).
In Exiled, the premise of a typical gangland hit evolves into a blossoming character study of five friends whose pasts unfold in increments alongside the growing chaos of present circumstances. While gun play cracks throughout, To's style is nothing like Woo's, where, instead of making the action the proud centerpiece, To uses it sparingly as an infrequent catalyst to propel our protagonists story arc from one escalating situation to the next. That's not to say the action isn't palpable, but the action is merely a flash of style that's deliberately trumped by the predominant substance throughout. Exiled makes a strong case that if John Woo were to permanently abandon the West for his homeland, he'd have some catching up to do with the current king of Kong.
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