Don't expect an action movie and you're in for a treat
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 04/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Throw Down is a real crowd-pleaser despite being more interested in the quirky characters than the judo bouts in the film. Johnnie To's tribute to Kurosawa and filled with references to Sugata Sanshiro (far more than the one that To admits to), it actually feels more like a Hong Kong version of Britcom Black Books, with Luis Koo's drunken former judo prodigy staggering his way from scam to scam with his two employees between mismanaging his nightclub with about as much grasp of conventional reality as Bernard Black.
It's a redemption story, of course, with the cocky young challenger Aaron Kwok and the death of a friend eventually spurring him to clean up his act. Although it's filled with great moments of pure filmmaking, from the slow-motion bar-room judo brawl that spills out into the street to Cherrie Ying running joyfully through the streets with her hands full of stolen cash while her pursuers sporadically stop to pick up the stray notes that fall from her arms, it's not really an action movie: even the final fight between Koo and Tony Leung Ka-Fei is almost thrown away. It's the disparate characters and the sheer enjoyment To takes in them that makes this work. Even one of the villains of the piece, Siu-Fai Cheung's Brother Savage, who lives to humiliate children and customers by beating them at the games in his arcade, is impossible to really hate, while Leung's character is never turned into a monster who must be destroyed but simply an adversary who must be beaten fair and square. Great fun.
Welcome to Judo Planet
Pablo Acosta | Chicago, IL United States | 02/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautiful movie. Not just for judokas.But judokas will fall in love with it. There are many references to Kurosawa and Sugata Sanshiro, his first movie. This is not a martial arts movie, it is really a drama, but the action scenes are just beautiful."