A brilliant buddy movie, on a par with anything by Woo. From the Leone-esque opening scene, to the final, Wild Bunch style shootout, this film, more than any Asian crime film Ive seen, feels distinctly like a western, and this was certainly a conscious choice. To's visual style is considerable and distinctive, the film is particularly well staged and beautifully shot.
To compliments his content through an obsession with two of the most dynamic features of film; motion and texture. The characters move in and out of shadows, the darkness obsuring any world outside their own and the spurts of blood become dust in the wind
This is a gem of an action film. Johnny To has taken over the reigns from John Woo as the king of HK shoot 'em ups. I love Anthony Wong, he plays such a cool tough guy gangster with near unbreakable loyalties. The final shootout is quick, brutal, beautiful, and perfectly executed.
The gunplay here isn't used by To to wax about the wrong or rightfulness of violence, as this is an eastern film, thus its culture is different. Here, picking a side in a gunfight (or a playground) shows brotherhood, honor, and loyalty as a form of a relationship. The action-ballet shows it's still a macho fantasy, but it's like growing up. We all die alone, but exist in the heart of others as do they with us.
They were throwing the gold around like it was chocolate bars covered in golden tinfoil. For some reason I can suspend disbelief that they can be in numerous shootouts and not get shot, but this bothers me.
Not as good as the Election films, IMO, but still a gorgeous action film. The term "opera of violence," which is synonymous with Leon's legendary Once Upon a Time in the West, kept going through my head as I watched this one. 4/5.
The elegance in which the shootouts unfold have almost a ritualistic feel like the acts of violence are a right of passage. Another reading might be the shootouts function in almost a brechtian fashion and disciplining the audience's involvement with the action sequences gives more weight to the surprisingly serene scenes in between. In either case a pretty stunning marriage of form and content. Must see.