(No longer in theaters)
Aug 31, 2007
If you’ve never seen a Johnnie To crime picture, Exiled (opening August 31) is a simple, stylish, and utterly delightful introduction. It doesn’t have the sociological sweep of To’s Triad Election double bill or the cheeky media satire of his Breaking News. It’s in the Sam Peckinpah/Walter Hill archetypal mode. Six gangsters—the most charismatic is Anthony Wong, who played the doomed police chief in Infernal Affairs—can’t bring themselves to execute in cold blood a childhood friend who betrayed the boss and has just turned up in Macao with his wife and a baby. They give him a chance to make some money for his family—but more and more, they become his family. Unlike the jittery, handheld documentary look of new-style American thrillers, Exiled recalls the smooth, gliding, arcing camera of Sergio Leone, the antagonists facing one another impassively in sunglasses and long coats while the camera confidently takes the measure of the space. The ensemble shoot-outs are a bit of a muddle, but they’re certainly colorful—the puffs of smoke around the falling bodies are crimson. By the time Exiled comes to its bloody, heartbreaking finale, you’ll wish you could see these actors’ faces in every crime thriller.