In Macao, a trio of gunmen butcher a family. Only the mother survives (barely), and her father (aging French rocker Johnny Hallyday, looking as hardboiled and grotesque as Mickey Rourke), a restaurateur who knows altogether too much about how to get by in the violent underworld, comes to town and sets out on a mission of vengeance. He hires a trio of hit men, and works with them in tracking down his enemies. They have to do so quickly, though, because Hallyday has been shot before, and the bullet lodged in his brain is gradually stealing his memory away. He wants his revenge while he can still remember why it is necessary.
Johnnie To’s crime thriller is as stylized as anything John Woo did in his prime, and shows, post-Woo, that there are still new ways of choreographing violent shoot-outs. A massive showdown in a junkyard is a set-piece of such visual beauty as to be worth the price of admission in and of itself. The mix of gangster film, revenge saga, Memento, and fable will understandably be a bit rich for some palates, but taken in the right spirit, this is intense, deliriously excessive entertainment.
The daylight scenes have a chilly, almost eerie clarity to them, while the night scenes are neon-lurid. The colours, then, are terrific, cold or striking as the mood dictates. The image is extremely sharp, and free of grain or edge enhancement. Contrasts are excellent, as are blacks, and however moody and noir the film becomes, it is never murky. Flesh tones are strong, too, and the aspect ratio is the original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
The script is a mixture of English, French and Cantonese, with English predominating as the lingua franca of the various characters. The dialogue is clear and never drowned out by the copious sound effects and driving score. The placement and left-right separation of the effects is superb, and the sense of being plunged into the film’s world is very strong indeed. The music is also handled very well, with noticeable, and effective, division of labour between the various speakers.
Making-of Featurette: (10:19) The usual promotional deal.
Theatrical Trailer. Which, as suggested above, looks like it’s been dragged over a gravel road.
Thin on extras but rich in entertainment and eye candy, this is a disc well worth the rental.