Dir. Johnnie To; 2009; Hong Kong; Action/Crime/Thriller; Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Testud; 108 mins
We’ve been here before. In 2004 we marveled at To’s 7 minute long single take opening sequence of BREAKING NEWS. In 2005 we joined in Sitges’ celebration of one of their favourite sons with screenings of To’s ELECTION and THE MISSION. In 2007 we happily paid the entrance fee to see MAD DETECTIVE, but there was a problem. Apart from the odd flashes of genius, we weren’t that impressed with To.
We were clearly missing something as JT is widely regarded as one of this generations great film makers. And now Sitges have presented us with yet another opportunity to finally “get” Johnnie To. But I can feel the apprehension begin to grow. We’ve already marked this on our list of “must-see” films but is it to be something akin to staring at the sun. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t but then, without realising, we’re sat in the theatre as the lights go down and the dramatic score rises above the opening credits.
From the synopsis and reviews I would say that we might as well give up on To if we don’t like VENGEANCE. A gritty revenge story with shades of MEMENTO and beautifully shot. How could we not like that? Hopefully we won’t have to answer that in our post-Sitges review.
Come on Johnnie. We really, really want to love you.