Limbo (2021) Poster

(II) (2021)

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Unmissable thriller
paul-ayres-6078411 June 2022
A very dark and grim thriller filmed in black & white, mostly in the slums of Hong Kong. This movie is so atmospheric with a soundtrack that compliments it to perfection.

This really is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. Emotions run high in this true masterpiece of a movie!
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Desperate Hong Kong
g-8962223 October 2021
Warning: Spoilers
It is rare to use black and white images to present Hong Kong's urban space, and the lights of thousands of homes are also gloomy and desperate. The tyrannical police detective, the weak female, the broken left hand, the painful wisdom teeth, and the playable setting make the movie full of tension. Hong Kong, under Zheng Baorui's black-and-white lens, is a city we rarely see on the big screen: it is not so much a city as a huge garbage dump. Never seen that much trash in one movie, even documentaries on the subject of picking up trash are hard to compare. Black and white are black, there is no clean place, there is no clean person.
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Sin City meets film noir?
starman_vagabond2 November 2021
Limbo is probably of one of the boldest attempt to put HK well-known crime drama along with the film noir genre. There were in the past many fine example of local production of gruesome and gritty crime stories and yet, Limbo pushes the envelope even further. The movie seems to actively asking audience not only looking at the stunning yet very harsh black and white visuals, but to sense the desperation of the characters, the smell of non-stop rain from trashy industrial buildings, as well as the out casts of our society but also the very places that they had to put up with. It is as if the movie theatre can release a fragrant of the movie, it would be, as what the main protagonist described, the smell of rubbish. Then perhaps, it could have also been the smell of real Hong Kong. Gone are the glorious and glamour of high rises and luxury apartments, replaced the harsh realty of daily grinning in an industrial, often chaotic mix of poor areas with out casts who had long been neglected.

The set design of film alone would have worth the trip to the theatre but oddly enough it was the characters' development which feel a bit of a let down. The English title does it justice to prescribe the state of mind of characters, whether it is Liu who mentally broke down because of his injured wife or Wang Tao, the young poor girl who is literally crying for her redemption, or the new smart looking Ren Kai who suffer from physical pain from his wisdom teeth (hence the Chinese title). We would want to know a bit more of their past to gain even more sympathy on their pain. The build up of the antagonist is probably one of the weaker point since all the suspense and industrial garbage land setting, leading up to the finale, could have been more meaningful if only the audience can know more about his origin and back story. Indeed, the "hand" motif could have been further explored and drill for deeper sub text through out the film. This is also why the antagonist felt a bit underdeveloped, especially through earlier scenes that he would have been a very suspenseful character. Then again, the slow developments of characters can be almost forgiven by one of the most gritty fight scenes in HK cinema in the finale and the sadness and suffering from each of the main casts can be finally released and cleansed through the heavy rain and blood.
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Derivative storyline elevated by its stunning production design
Hackneyed narrative that is mercifully saved by some visually inspired production design. The richly constructed look and feel of this film cannot be overstated. From the opening frame, One's senses are immediately assaulted, if not drowned, by the reek and penetrating decay of some saturated underbelly where these token, yet serviceable, characters aptly inhabit. The performances are as effective as the thin and woefully predictable writing will allow, but with as many highly-successful film-making paragons(Wilson Yip, Kin-ye Au, etc.) attached, one might expect a bit more. Nevertheless, the technical team and its bravura display of visual mastery more than successfully manage to compensate for the film's more than obvious weaknesses.
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Soi Cheang's long awaited comeback to serious filmmaking.
Jqn_Hgar15 June 2022
Story wise Limbo plays within a familiar territory when it comes to police investigation films about the hunt for a serial killer on the loose therefore the execution makes all the difference here and it ends up being a prime example of how a movie's visual aspect elevating it above its written material. After All Limbo shares a lot of similarities with Soi cheang's own Dog Eat Dog in terms of plot and in terms of how murky the morality of most of the characters at play is but as bleak and filthy as that film was it still has nothing on Limbo because as stated above the aesthetic that this film goes for is even grittier, grimier, nastier and bleaker yet still somehow mesmerising as it creates an atmosphere that is as creepy and ruthless as its subject matter.

Hong Kong is depicted in almost apocalyptic way, focusing mostly on the territory in which the killer operates, the rain soaked litter filled back alleys of the city, a wasteland that feeds on the outcasts of society, if you don't get chopped up by the killer the street will literally eat you alive. The city's mega structures are juxtaposed in the background in some scenes as a way to comment on how isolated the underworld feels it's almost as if the movie is saying you can scream all you want because nobody is coming there for help and nobody cares.

With a cast and crew consisting of a few Milky way image regulars (recurring story elements from previous works like the police detective losing his gun subplot are explored here again with a different approach), Limbo tells the story of a relentless manhunt for a deranged serial killer terrorising the female outcasts of the underworld. With Gordon Lam, in one of his few leading roles, shining as the tormented veteran police detective. His looks kind of reflect the harshness of his environment, the guy isn't afraid of getting knee deep in a trunk full of junk if it means he gets one step closer to stopping the culprit. On the other hand we have Yase Liu giving a very solid performance as the lead female of the film, I've never seen her in anything before but her turn will surely make me watch out for anything she does in the future. Mason Lee who I just found out is Ang Lee's son also does a decent job as the newly assigned and relatively naive detective, he might not be as good at his job as Gordon Lam's character but he definetly has the same resolve to fulfill his duty.

This is a step in the right direction for Soi Cheang a director who is clearly better than being a for hire in mainland chinese CGI crap fests, definetly the best film I've seen from him as of yet. If you liked his Dog Bite Dog you should find this right up your alley because I personally think it's a way better film that shows how much he grew as a filmmaker. Please for the love of god keep doing stuff like this. Also somebody please wake Johnnie To up from his sleep, we need more films like this! Keep Hong Kong cinema alive.
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some feelings
j_movie25 August 2021
Fully in line with expectations. Like bomb disposal expert 2, when you think it's just a job, young directors in Hong Kong who have experienced on the set will prove their strength with their works. In particular, Zheng Baorui has been tied too deeply by the label of "bad film" in recent years, making people forget how dark and fierce his image was in those years. Wisdom teeth is not so much Hui Yong's work as the talent that has been hidden in his blood. It seems that the three parts, including journey to the west, need to be re examined. Under the black-and-white color, the regionality of Hong Kong is blurred. It seems that Hong Kong has become a city of sin. It is almost breathless with endless violence, massacre and humiliation. However, the more such a place is, the more it can produce some light of human nature. The moving part of wisdom teeth is precisely here. Liu Zhongxuan, who is cold outside and hot inside, Wang Tao, who is ill fated, and Ren Kai, who has finally grown up by "pulling out his wisdom teeth", all three main characters are waiting for the moment of self redemption. Unfortunately, Ren Kai's line is really weak, otherwise he can get real five stars.
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Vivid, dangerous, well done
sstt1-118 January 2022
Cheung Pou-Soi does an excellent directing job here, turning the vision of writers Au Kin-Yee and Shum Kwan-Sin into a black and white film noir where characters' motives are no cleaner than the rubbish dumps in which it's set. Another brilliant turn by Lam Ka-Tung as the jaded detective, and Mason Lee (son of legendary director Ang Lee) plays a good rookie-in-charge-with-issues. Even when you think the females are there to be the weak ones, their tenacity may well surprise you. I really enjoyed rooting for certain characters all the way through but especially at the end. Warning - this should be an 18 cert in the UK for rape and injury detail.
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billcr1220 June 2022
This is a dark Chinese black and white film noir which is vicious. I would put it in a category with both Seven and Kalifornia. Two detectives, a rookie and a salty veteran investigate the murders of junkie prostitutes. The killer has cut off their hands and the police are stumped by the crimes. The cinematography is excellent and the two leads credible. A completely unpredictable ending make this a must watch film.
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Crime Drama
crimsen_cinema23 March 2022
Black and white picture completely increases the beauty and darkness of hong kong environment. Although action scene feel a bit messy, awesome acting.
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Should be thank Mr. Siu-Keung Cheng
kepa_pro2 July 2022
The story didn't make sense at all. If you are such hate, when not just kill the actress at the first place?

We all know it's copy from "Sin City (2005)",I told to Scriptwriter herself, she can do better than that. I knew the filming was hard work, my heart is with the actress who contributed the film, not the director himself, sorry!

Simple as that you don't have to do so as the film is artifacts not real! Actress will be named marked the date I said so.
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A bold, hyperstylized noir HK thriller
Limbo is a gritty stylized noir Hong Kong thriller from Soi Cheang, director of SPL 2 and Accident. Adapted from a Chinese crime novel by Lei Mi, the film features beautiful black-and-white cinematography, impressive production design, and solid performances from its three leads, especially from actress Yase Liu.

Will Ren, a rookie cop is assigned with Lau, a veteran cop, to investigate a series of brutal murders across east Kowloon.

Lau runs into Wong To, a down-and-out car thief on parole with whom he shares a dark past with, and recruits her to be an informant to search for the murderer.

Milkyway veteran Cheng Siu Keng's digital black and white cinematography is gorgeous and rich in contrast, creating a moody nihilistic atmosphere and transforms familiar Hong Kong locales into an unfamiliar Asian city where only bad things happen.

Kenneth Mak's production design is meticulous, sculpting the Hong Kong cityscape into a hyper-stylized setting that's something out of an adult graphic novel. For instance, the police station was fashioned out of a local Hong Kong market, creating an underground cavernous office, desks full of unsolved cases and cluttered with wornout cops.

There is so much garbage everywhere littered throughout the entire film. My first thought was, "That's some beautifully arranged garbage. Look at the contrast and texture!" Eventually, watching endless scenes of people rummaging through garbage makes it feel like the rubbish is on you. I took a shower before watching Limbo and wanted a second immediately after the end.

The grimness, while stylistically engaging, paints the film into a corner that does it a disservice. It is like Soi Cheang is squeezing out every last bit of the Grim brand toothpaste and there's no speck of hope in a literal garbage dump of a world. By the finale, all the grimness got tiring and I was yearning for another emotion to take over.

If there's no ray of hope for these characters, what's at stake then? The atmosphere is trying to choke them all to death.

What kept the film together was Yase Liu's performance, who steals the show as the film's unofficial protagonist. It is a well-written redemption arc that Liu plays with earnest and commitment, performing her own stunts in a lot of the film's chase scenes. Yase Liu becomes the ray of hope the film needs, despite all the surrounding nihilism trying hard to extinguish it.

Limbo is a heavy somber film and I could see it being hit-or-miss depending on whether your proverbial glass is half-empty or half-full. In the end, it was entertaining but I don't fully buy Soi Cheang thinks the world is utterly hopeless as he vehemently portrays.

For this reason, SPL 2 is still my favorite Soi Cheang film as it's where he kept both the grittiness and heart in better balance.
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Great film
zakonline13 August 2022
Excellent crime thriller drama. Yes, the characters could have been a bit more fleshed out, but overall the tone, directing, cinematography and acting were outstanding. Gordon Lam is seriously one of the most under-rated HK actors. After an alphabet soup of "Storm" movies starring the same-old same-old familiar actors in the lead, I had almost given up on HK cinema, but this gives me new hope.
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Hollywood Beware; A New Standard is Set
rak-2700320 July 2022
OUTSTANDING b&w crime thriller out of Hong Kong. Winner of 2 Asian Film Awards for Best Sound and Best Production Design; the Hong Kong Directors' Guild Award for Best Actress; 2 HKFCS Awards for Best Actress and Best Film; Catalonian Int'l Film Festival Award for Best Cinematography; and the MYmovies Purple Mulberry Award.

This film is near perfect in every recognizable cinematic category. Director Soi Cheang and writer Kin-Yee Au have given us a truly unforgettable realistic dark crime thriller drama that is going to set the standard for in crime thrillers for the next two decades. This was not a comic book adventure where a star wades through 25 armed baddies and puts them down in 40 seconds flat. This movie is realistic rough non-stop action that plays out in dark, drizzly, narrow, garbage-strewn, urban alleys, by desperate and traumatized men and women. In the long struggle scenes not a martial arts move is seen. The climatic fight scenes is 6 minutes long and involves 4 people fighting it out over a stretch of garbage. One of the best fight scenes that a director can bring to the screen. But, every action scene from start to finish, is a marvel in rough and tough, or touching and troubling, realism.

The settings, lighting, sound, filming and music, all come together to effectively support the moods that the story conveys.

Film co-star Yase Liu, was out of this world, as a street urchin. I watched the film twice in a 24-hour period. The second go was mainly to zero in on her performance. WOW! Action heroines in Hollywood and elsewhere need to tune in and learn from this young actress. Until further notice, she is the best. This is not to belittle the performance of co-star Ka-Tung Lam who played the role of a plainclothes police detective hunting down a psychopath with a fetish for the left hands of women. But, the character appears more obsessed with tracking down and humiliating the street urchin. Great performance Ka-Tung Lam.
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But, hey, it looks great!
richard-mcgeough23 July 2022
Two dim-witted, bad-tempered, violent cops - one of them with a toothache - run around the rubbish-strewn back alleys of Kwun Tong looking for a violent killer with some serious mental health issues. Some triads run up some stairs. Then they run down again. Among all this silliness, two street-tough young women are put through some deeply harrowing experiences. Yase Liu as Wong To gives by some distance the best performance in a story that provides very limited context or background to the characters. It all just about makes sense despite each character acting inexplicably to help move the plot along. But, hey, it all looks absolutely stunning. No HK film I've seen has looked this magnificent since Wong Kar Wai's heyday. 10/10 for the production design, 4/10 for everything else. Let's call it a 5.
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