Rented this just a couple weeks ago on a night I knew damn well I wouldn’t have time to watch it. It’s just as good a few weeks later.
During the first half I wasn’t enjoying it so much because I was looking for the wrong things. The characters seemed to have no names or individual traits – just a group of guys who are always in the same scenes together, defined by their commitment to friendship (the backstory consists of one old photo of them together as kids) over loyalty to their mob boss (and therefore their personal safety). I didn’t know the actors (recognized a couple as Chi Wai’s multiple personalities from Mad Detective) and was waiting for the story/character scenes to kick in. But they never do, and now I can appreciate that. The photo is the backstory: these guys are friends… what more do we need for an action flick?
So without character development, we’re left with dark, shadowy cinematography on awesomely-staged action sequences. The one below is a favorite. The fifth friend, whom the other four were supposed to kill on orders from their boss which led them all to revolt, is wounded and being treated by the gang’s private doctor, when the boss himself, also wounded, shows up. He’s being treated, surrounded by bodyguards, while the friends hide behind curtains and furniture, the lead-up to the shoot-out being deliciously more thrilling than the shoot-out itself.
The fifth guy dies, and his wife goes on a shooting rampage against our heroes. They fail to kill their boss, who is now hunting them. They’re on the run and it looks like the movie is gonna break out an existential loneliness dialogue when they stumble upon a heist, a truck full of gold being defended by a cigarette-smoking super-soldier. The movie wasn’t what I’d call realistic to this point, but now it flies off the rails, and they join up with this guy to steal the gold. But narratively it’s not gonna work for the four remaining gunmen to live rich in hiding while their former boss stays in power and their dead friend’s wife raises her new baby alone, so they go back for one more suicidal fight, leaving the gold to the wife and the soldier.
You have to think that guys wearing sunglasses and shooting guns in slow-motion is cool to properly enjoy the movie, and I do, so I loved it by the end. Set in Macau, a former Portuguese colony now in the same political situation as Hong Kong. Nice comic touch: a cop with only a couple days left on the force keeps driving by, getting shot at, and running off unharmed… he lives to see retirement.