Johnnie To finally returns..."EXILED" has essence of all pre
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 10/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EXILED is directed by Johnnie To (Full Time Killer, Election, Breaking News), one of the most acclaimed directors of Hong Kong. Johnnie To is the epitome of hard-boiled cool, his films are fresh, visually inventive and have that cinematic magic. The cast of Johnnie To's hit "The Mission" has been reunited for this film. No, this is not a sequel, although it does have very similar characters. Exiled won numerous awards in Hong Kong, including `Best Director'.
PLOT synopsis loosely derived from the DVD back cover:
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 background of fin-de-siècle malaise 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. Once there, all 5 men must find a way to resolve the situation. But can they, without getting anyone killed in the process?
At first look, one may take `Exiled' a buddy flick. But believe me; the movie succeeds in side-stepping that impression. Johnnie To is back! This is the type of film his fans loved him for, this is purely a testosterone-driven, bloody heroic violence. The term "epic violence" may apply to this film. This is a guy's film, not to say chicks won't dig it, but males will truly appreciate it more. This is not a sappy, funny comedy.
One of the best things about "Exiled" is the INVENTIVE action sequences. Long distance gunfights are a bit low-key, subtle but extremely intense. Close quarters gun battles have the usual "BULLET BALLET" reminiscent of Chow Yun Fat. Johnnie To made the right decision dividing the segments of the stylized gun battles, low-key or "bullet ballet", To's talent shines through. The gun battles are very FRESH with his usual signature style.
Another great thing with this film is the cast. Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Lam Suet, Roy & Nick Cheung, Josie Ho, Richie Ren and Simon Yam, they are ALMOST in the majority of To's films. The chemistry of the cast meshes very well considering they worked together in most of Johnnie's films. That is one of the magic of To's film making, he always find the right actors for his films.
Nice touches, such as two dueling hitmen having a drink and having friendly "small talk" , they know they will eventually end up trying to kill each other. The group enjoying a home-cooked meal (cooked by 2 of them) and reminiscing about their past after the gunfight in the 1st act of the film, adds depth to its characters in a subtle way, at the same time emphasizes a sense of `honor' while setting the film's moody, noirish atmosphere.
I have the UNCUT 2-disc region-3 release from Megastar. (Hong Kong official release)
Note: The MEGASTAR release has the triad handshake, which was cut from theaters to make it category II (rated-R). The uncut version restores the handshake that has a category III rating (NC-17). I'm not sure if Magnolia pictures didn't cut it out.
VIDEO/AUDIO: 2.40 ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN. The transfer is excellent. Colors are vibrant but lean towards a darker contrast. Clean transfer with a few enhancements but not distracting. 6.1 Dolby Ex/6.1 DTS-ES IN Cantonese and Mandarin language. If you're equipped, utilize the DTS track since it is more powerful and crisp. The gunshots do come to life. English Subs are excellent.
Johnnie To deserves to continue making movies the way he likes to without any outside influence. While "EXILED" did contain similarities to his previous film; The Mission...so what? "Exiled" is Johnnie's gift to all his fans and is a welcome return to the genre he excels in. Personally, I'm just happy he's back doing what he does best!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! (4 ½ stars)
Exiled: Guns and Friendship
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 02/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though Johnnie To is often associated with Hong Kong gangster films, the prolific director has actually tried other genres of film like supernatural or romantic ones. Still, the fact remains that the respected veteran is at his best when making films about the underground world with stylish visuals, and "Exiled" once again proves his expertise with his great camera and skills to tell a powerful story of brotherhood.
In the opening scene that reminds us of old Italian-made Western films, two gangsters visit an old house in Macau, where they think someone named Wo (Nick Cheung) is living. Wo's wife Jin (Josie Ho) answers the door and says no, shutting the door on their face. Then another two gangsters arrive, quietly asking the same question. Obviously those four men have some business to do, but their motives will not be revealed until one highly-stylized shoot-out begins.
"Exiled," which was filmed without script, is made of a series of set-pieces or vignettes mainly involving the friendship between the five male characters - Blaze (Anthony Wong), Tai (Francis Ng), Cat (Roy Cheung), Fat (Lam Suet) and Wo. There is a ruthless triad boss Fay (Simon Yam with over-the-top acting) who has unfinished business with Wo, whose only wish is to leave money to his wife and child.
Johnnie To has shown his great talent as director here with his wonderful camera work in the several shoot-out scenes that are impressive. But as in some of his previous films (like fantastic "The Mission") "Exiled" is not just about actions, but is about camaraderie between these male characters. There isn't much dialogue because these men don't need them, and the chain of events in "Exiled" which includes incredible coincidences about robbery and subplots about Wo's strong-willed wife, always stresses their relationship. Those characters may look stereotyped, but with the terrific acting from the entire cast, their story of friendship is a genuine one."
Really really good crime drama with bad lighting...
Blue Subie | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States | 06/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i've seen The Mission and Full time Killer and have generally been pleased with Johnnie To's work.
the acting was great, the story/writing/characters were good, but lighting some of the action sequences (the shootout in the restaurant, followed almost immediately by the shootout in the doctor's office) were almost impossible to follow because of his choice of angles and lighting. now, i have a region 1 disc, so if there is a better version out there, get it.
this was a really good movie that, in terms of acting, writing, and directing; is on par with anything that john Woo has done."