Exiled

"Very Good"

Exiled Review


For a moment near the beginning of Johnny To's Exiled, a piece of furniture floats in open air between two assassins, each shooting the piece in a maelstrom of a gunfight. The camera, sturdy and entranced in patented Hong Kong slow-motion, picks up every particle from every gun-blast and every molecule of dust and dirt that is kicked up in the small apartment. There are only four actual gunmen but between the sprays of flying shrapnel, you'd believe there were entire battalions having it out in the dinky apartment.

A stylized battle of this nature should come expected in the pantheon of Johnny To films. The fact that minutes later all four assassins are helping to rebuild and refurnish the apartment may not be expected. As it turns out, the four hitmen, and the target in question, are all old friends. Two of the hitmen have been called to take out the target while two have taken it upon themselves to protect the target. Blaze (Anthony Wong), the alpha-male of the group, lays down his guns but promises the target, his friend Wo (Nick Cheung), that he will have to kill him eventually.

Blaze's employer, Boss Fay (a relentless Simon Yam), still carries the scar that Wo gave him, and the news that Blaze and his buddies have moved onto more lucrative propositions, namely a gold-bullion heist. Gunfight after gunfight, the four heroes prevail over Fay and his cronies, leading to a titanic shoot-out in a ramshackle hotel that looks more like a bordello in the old west rather than its Macau setting. That a can of Red Bull bounces from bullet to bullet between the assassins and Fay's henchmen is just icing on the jelly-filled cake.

Though To has proven himself a proficient crime-drama storyteller (his recent Election/Triad Election double-whammy), his ability and style becomes most apparent in his gunfights. Choreographed and shot as if in a detailed hallucination, the settings become their own pieces of action, holding the physical action in check. In an open floor, the assassins battle with Fay's legions as sheets and drapes drift in the violent breeze, giving off the effect of looming phantoms in the foreground. Elsewhere, a meeting with Fay becomes a stunning bloodbath with To using a tracking shot to capture the flickers of silverware and light in a glass-encapsulated dining room.

Exiled may prove to be To's most lavish variation on gangland theatrics to date, embedding himself in Leone's spaghetti-western mechanics. Returning with many of the same actors and structured as a loose sequel of To's 1999 claim-to-fame The Mission, To has come full circle with his genre exercises, excessively placing dollops of humor and Western criticism throughout the banter and gunfights. The cast adheres to the loosened-up To with humor and grace, especially the dynamic Wong, who seems to only get better with time. As an action film, Exiled excels into a near artistic realm than one might think possible, but it never lets itself slide far from the shoot'em up paradigm it's aiming for. If it weren't for those pesky subtitles, you'd swear it was the best summer action film of the year.

Aka Fong juk.



Exiled

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 19th October 2006

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Detective Mike Logan, as Lieutenant Kevin Stolper, as Detective Frankie Silvera, John Fiore as Detective Tony Profaci, as Captain Donald Cragen, as Detective Sammy Kurtz, as Seymour 'Kingston' Stockton, as Gianni Uzielli, as Don Giancarlo Uzielli, as Georgeanne Taylor, as Detective Ray Curtis, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, as Detective Lennie Briscoe, as Jack McCoy, as Jerry Kleinert, Liz Larsen as C.S.U. Jessica Reed, Leslie Hendrix as Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers, Vanessa Liguori as Gina Uzielli

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