ONE OF THE BEST POLICE THRILLERS OF RECENT YEARS
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this not expecting much but good Hong Kong action. Imagine my surprise when I watched how it took cop films seriously. It's well acted by Simon Yam and Lau Chen Wan, but the surprising element is the writing. The characters are all real people with real problems that go beyond their police work and yet are constantly tied to them. It also has one of the most memorable climaxes of recent years. This film certainly lives up to it title! The DVD is of very good quality, with 5.1 sound, LBX at 2.35:1 ratio, interviews, a trailer, some outtakes, and scenes from the premiere. This is an excellent film, and the DVD does it justice. GET IT!!"
The logical evolution of HK film
Curtis G | OC, CA, USA | 06/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Expect the Unexpected" is like a relationship I once had: everything was going great until it all came crashing down. "ETU" feels like anything but a typical HK flick. You're not sure where it's going when it starts, and it never gets any easier to predict.
Sound is excellent, with good sync and "beef" in the lower registers, while retaining a certain openness in the mix. In other words, the whole movie is not filled with sound, be it talking or ambient noise or what have you. This "airiness" is also evident in the plot--director Patrick Yau doesn't frantically race from one scene to the next; instead, he allows characters to sit and think and contemplate without having to be in motion all the time. The movie follows relationships more than a strict dramatic blueprint, and there is even dialog that doesn't seem to drive the story. Refreshing, since every book on film writing tells you that every line of dialog must move the story forward. In one notable scene, Sam (Lau) and Ben (Hui Siu Hung) are on a stakeout; Ben tries to tell Sam a particularly convoluted story, but Sam can't follow. It's funny, but it doesn't seem to relate to the story. At most, it says something about the characters, revealing information that isn't integral to the plot. And I don't mind at all. In one of my favorite scenes, Ken (Yam) meets alone with Mandy (Yo Yo Mung); Sam, watching from outside, pretends he's reading Ken's lips and "overdubs" the conversation with racy dialog. Hilarious.
The Universe DVD transfer is above average, if ghosty and a bit soft, with a strange glow on the picture just inside the letterbox bars. Color saturation is particularly rich. The musical score by Cacine Wong deserves kudos, and not just compared to most bad HK movie scores. Synth work, reminiscent of John Carpenter's best ("Escape from New York"), is light and romantic where it needs to be, dark and foreboding where appropriate. And it's just plain good. The only musical misstep is a triple orchestra "sting" used to underscore a particularly gruesome revelation. Come on, those samples went out of style two weeks after they were introduced.
Cinematography is solid, not flashy (that is, compared to Milkyway's "Longest Nite"), and fits perfectly the mood of the film. Interestingly, certain shots are played in reverse. Since they happen at the end of scenes, I suspect they were used for effect. The police tactics used were much more realistic than in typical HK fare, but why are cops always standing out in the open while firing? The climactic shootout (you knew there would be one, right?) is shockingly realistic...and that's all I can say about it without a spoiler. I'm sure the ending was controversial, and likely contributed greatly to "ETU"'s relatively meager box office take. I had to wonder whether the way the climax played out was strictly necessary, whether all the other action in the movie was driving toward this particular result. My conclusion: It wasn't inevitable, but it was possible. And believable. Hey, sometimes in real life, bad things happen to good people.
After the handover of HK, and the departure of heavyweights like CYF, John Woo, and Ringo Lam, many people wondered where HK films were headed--and whether the industry itself could survive. Milkyway Productions is leading the industry's evolution by making thoughtful, quality films that are not just throwaway fluff. In many ways, "ETU" is quite nearly the "perfect" New HK Movie."
True Hong Kong Cinema
kid | 11/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this film a lot. It definitely merits repeat viewings. It is a great mix of story and action; though, the treat is watching the special unit of cops interact. It is heart-warming to see how this dysfunctional family bonds and cares for each other. It also allows a glimpse into what Hong Kong films are; it doesn't marginalize you, it instead includes you. Overall, a great buy."