Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Nick Cheung, Josie Ho, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Lam Ka Tung, Richie Jen
Written by: Szeto Kam-yuen, Yip Tin-shing
Directed by: Johnny To (a.k.a. Johnnie To)
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and some sexual content
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 09/06/2006

Exiled (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hit and Bliss

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After Johnny To's superb, Godfather-like Triad Election comes this equally amazing, but altogether different gangster film, much closer to a John Woo-like exploration of male bonding and astonishing, violent standoffs. The film opens with a doozy as four hitmen arrive at a Macau apartment building, all looking for the same man, Wo (Nick Cheung). They find only Wo's wife (Josie Ho) and a newborn baby. A slick, exciting shootout occurs before it's revealed that the five men were actually childhood friends. They make up, clean up the mess and prepare a hot meal before planning to team up against the gangland bosses who arranged the hit. A truckload of gold also comes into the picture. The rest of the film can't possibly sustain the energy of the opening moments, but director To (Running on Karma, Breaking News) makes up for it with many beautifully understated scenes and performances, and another great, unexpected action sequence in the woods. To and his co-writers set the action in 1998, just before Macau is handed over to the Chinese, giving the film a sense of uncertainty and finality. Anthony Wong, Francis Ng (both in Infernal Affairs), Roy Cheung and Lam Suet play the four hitmen. Simon Yam (Bullet in the Head) plays the powerful Boss Fay.

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