Exiled

Although Hong Kong crime movies too often scream for credible characterisation to complement their gunplay, that wasn’t so with Johnnie To’s gangland saga ‘Election’. If anything, the combination of a strong storyline with an exuberant action-oriented approach makes ‘Exiled’ the more accessible point of entry to the work of a director who’s long excited both fanboys and the festival circuit. The opening announces what’s striking about To’s best work: careful pacing and a witty take on the familiar tropes of gunplay are highly evident, as two pairs of hitmen pitch up at a backstreet Macau apartment to await a renegade ex-colleague. Anomie erupts into a dazzling apartment shoot-out, before old loyalties win out. These veterans have been through the mill together, and as their Triad masters prepare to swoop on the Portuguese colony now passing into Chinese rule (it’s 1998), the hired guns decide it’s time to put their priorities first.

Sam Peckinpah would surely recognise the way the killers’ code of honour sustains them in an ever more mercenary world, and with a Morricone-influenced score, To tips his hat to the westerns of yore. Sparse dialogue and taciturn charisma notwithstanding, this is no mere nostalgiafest, however, since To’s imaginative use of screen space and incisive cutting renders his bullet-sprayed highlights state of the art. It’s cool, thematically involving, knowing and sustained in its tension. Are you watching, Michael Mann?

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday June 15 2007
Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Johnnie To
Screenwriter: Kam-Yuen Szeto, Yip Tin-Shing
Cast: Anthony Wong
Francis Ng
Roy Cheung
Lam Suet
Simon Yam
Josie Ho

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Gerard Caron

What can I say? The reviewer of this film hasn't got a clue. As if movies were about plot. This film would make Sergio Leone smile. It's more stylish than anything by Tarentino. Just because Johnny To hasn't been branded yet by the cultural elite, anyone with eyes could see a real talent at work here. The visuals are Leone and the humor Bill Forsythe. Don't miss this film.

Gerard Caron

What can I say? The reviewer of this film hasn't got a clue. As if movies were about plot. This film would make Sergio Leone smile. It's more stylish than anything by Tarentino. Just because Johnny To hasn't been branded yet by the cultural elite, anyone with eyes could see a real talent at work here. The visuals are Leone and the humor Bill Forsythe. Don't miss this film.