Exiled (Hong Kong; 110 min.)

directed by: Johnnie To
starring: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang; Francis Ng; Nick Cheung; Josie Ho; Simon Yam
Fong juk
Michael says: "One of the things I love about the Chlotrudis/Brattle co-presented Sunday Eye Opener series is that it gives me the opportunity to see films I would never select on my own. Johnnie To’s EXILED is one such film. The director is well-known among those who love the Hong Kong gangster movie. He’s also fairly prolific, with two films, ELECTION and ELECTION TRIAD already eligible for Chlotrudis consideration in 2007, with EXILED being his third. I saw EXILED somewhat reluctantly not being much of a fan of Hong Kong gangster flicks, but was pleasantly surprised at not only how well-executed the film was, but by how much I enjoyed it.

"EXILED takes place in Macau in the late 80’s, just before the transition of power from the Portuguese to the Chinese. Two rival gang lords, one from Hong Kong vie for control of Macau’s underworld. One former gang member is trying to leave that life and live quietly with his wife and new son. When two of his former colleagues are sent to kill him, they encounter two other former colleagues have arrived to protect him. Faced with the conflicting forces of duty and honor, the five ‘brothers’ find themselves at odds with the entire Macau underworld and a desperate attempt to survive.

"To takes the familiar elements of the gangster film and structures his film like and old-time western. Right from the opening scenes we know we’re really watching a western, with the four gunmen facing off in the street while the concerned wife watches from a nearby window. On top of these finely executed genres To films his shoot-outs like the whimsical battles in Chinese martial arts films with guns taking the place of samurai swords. Halfway through EXILED, To introduces another element that changes the tone of the film to something more modern as the targeted man’s wife enters the struggle. Interspersed throughout the shoot-outs and backroom deals To includes amusing, almost nonsensical scenes that bring to mind the films of Hal Hartley. It’s a curious hodgepodge that is both effective and thrilling. 4 cats

"EXILED enjoys a week-long run at the Brattle Theatre at the beginning of November."