Posts Tagged ‘Haitao Li’

Breaking News

Tuesday, March 12th, 2024

Johnnie To’s BREAKING NEWS (2004) opens with a crane shot of a cool guy in a leather jacket (Haitao Li, VENGEANCE, GALLANTS, MOTORWAY) walking down a block into a building, and the camera floats up and looks into the window of the room where he tells his fellow armed robbers, led by Yuen (Richie Jen, EXILED), that it’s time to bring the money out to the car. Then the camera lowers back down to the street where hotshot inspector Cheung (Nick Cheung, AH KAM) and his loyal subordinate Sergeant Hoi (Hui Shiu-hung, ROYAL WARRIORS, NAKED KILLER, LEGENDARY ASSASSIN) are in a car staking them out. They’re concerned about two unwitting patrol officers stopping the thieves’ car for a traffic violation – could mess everything up. The shot will continue uninterrupted as one of the officers asks about a bag in the back seat and then the guns come out. The camera turns every which way to see the different sides firing at each other, the civilians fleeing, the backup police cars arriving. It cranes up to get a look at the guy hanging out a window firing a rifle down, then hopping onto a ledge and dropping to the street to run. It doesn’t cut until the thieves flee the scene in a stolen police van.

The only thing I knew about BREAKING NEWS was that people made a big deal about this long take at the time (it’s about 7 minutes). But since then we’ve had TOM YUM GOONG, CHILDREN OF MEN, HANNA, BIRDMAN, 1917, ATHENA, etc., so it not only is it a more common technique now, but this is a relatively subtle use of it . It certainly doesn’t seem like the point of the movie. It’s just a cool way to open it and show how these characters are tied together. (read the rest of this shit…)

Throw Down

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

Man, what am I doing leaving all these Johnnie To movies unseen? Whenever I watch one I seem to fall in love. Case in point, THROW DOWN (2004). As far as I knew it wasn’t even one of his more popular ones when Criterion released it in 2021, at least not in the U.S. It was just a forgotten Tai Seng DVD from the aughts. But now it is the recipient of the prestigious The Best Thing I’ve Seen Lately award.

Most of To’s movies I’ve seen have been crime movies. They have good action but they’re more notable for their visual beauty and operatic emotion. They usually feel more poetic than badass, though they can be both. THROW DOWN technically has some crime in it, but that’s not the main topic, and to my surprise this is largely a comedy. Not the broad type of humor I associate with Hong Kong cinema, but a very dry, offbeat sort of humor of different characters matter-of-factly following their idiosyncratic pursuits into strange situations and never making a big deal out of it. Never mugging, never underlining. (read the rest of this shit…)