Following his directorial debut with the 1980 period martial arts fantasy The Enigmatic Case, To’s career came to something of an apex in the late 1980s thanks to such memorable action films as The Big Heat and tender, personal dramas like All About Ah-Long (the latter of which landed star Chow Yun-Fat a Best Actor award at the 1990 Hong Kong Film Awards). After taking the helm for such memorable action films as The Heroic Trio and directing Stephen Chow in such films as Justice, My Foot and Mad Monk in the early ‘90s, To moved into producing with the creation of independent film company Milky Way Films, a company which yielded such popular Hong Kong action efforts as Nai-hoi Yau’s The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected. Though To’s production company was indeed a success, his career behind the camera was in need of some rejuvenation, an issue which he readily addressed with the release of his highly praised 1999 crime drama The Mission.
Utilizing convention as a springboard… read more
"With To, things get a lot more complicated. With Tsui we have abstraction, with Lam opposition and sometimes expression, but with To we have all of these things and more. A dynamic. If Hark represents the cult of the image and Lam represents its possibilities in regards to characterization, To represents the image itself. In the first still we have a general sense of the mood, in the second a sense of the characters, but in the third, removed from its film, we don't quite know what's going on. There are so many elements: faces, hands, emotions, objects, threats, possibilities. To understands the widescreen image not instinctually, like Michael Mann or Claire Denis, but through intelligence, the same kind George Cukor had when he made A Star is Born." -Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
Feels like the most complete filmmaker working. Not 100% sure how to describe what I mean, but the amount of creativity he invests into his shots, his editing, the care and humanity with which he uses actors, is truly worthy of comparisons to the all time greats. The sheer number of brilliant films should make it easy and comfortable to place him among the best there's been. He's simply that good.