Allegedly shot in 12 days with no script, the film's effectiveness lies in its efficiency, its integrity, and its believable camaraderie between the leads. The third act goes to show the Mission with our amicable gang boss is not Johnnie To's focus at all, but is instead the conflict of loyalty with brotherhood. To's method of production lends a very special clarity to the theme.
Really, it should lose every star in the history of mankind for the worst musical score in cinema history. Ffs, guys! But it's the usual Johnnie To exercise in some good stuff happening at the expense of narrative coherence and his films just get on my nerves. Anthony Wong, Simon Yam and the shopping centre scene made it worthwhile though.
I've always considered this to be Johnnie To's most accessible film, so if anyone is looking for a place to start with his filmography - it's right here. One of the last great Hong Kong 'action' pictures, "The Mission" is as existential as it is cool. The controlled, precise movements of both To's camera and his cast mean this film has more in common with the work of Jean-Pierre Melville than it does with John Woo.
The most flamboyantly gay heroic bloodshed film EVER. Loved it. Lesser than Exiled and A Hero Never Dies, and not really eligible for relevant comparison to the stylistically worlds apart Election series, but still fun as hell. Lam Suet, quiet as ever, rules the day with his quirky characterization of James.