BREAKING NEWS (Daai si gin) (director: Johnnie To; screenwriters: Hing-Ka Chan/Tin-Shing Yip; cinematographer: Cheng Siu Keung; editor: David Richardson; music: Ching Chi Wing/Ben Cheun; cast: Richie Jen (Yuen), Kelly Chen (Rebecca), Nick Cheung (Cheung), Cheung Siu Fai (Eric), Hui Siu Hung (Hoi), Lam Suet (Yip), Maggie Shiu (Grace), Yong You (Chun), Ding Hai Feng (Long); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Johnnie To/Biao Cao; Tartan; 2004-Hong Kong-Cantonese/Mandarin-with English subtitles)
“This is a film Michael Bay would green light in a heartbeat.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Superficial Hong Kong cops-and-robbers thriller pretending to be more, like a story about how the media spins the news (with the message: it’s the media’s fault, stupid). The always busy internationally recognized HK director Johnnie To (“Exiled”/”Election”/”Full Time Killer”) shoots another of his implausible crime dramas that has well-choreographed fight scenes. Arguably, the film is just an excuse to shoot some fine HK choreographed shoot-outs. You might as well as forget the inane story line and just take in the strong action set pieces, because there’s nothing more to see.
The film is noted for its long track eight minute opening shot on a Steadicam, with minimal dialogue but a loud and bloody street shoot-out between cops-and-robbers. After the smoke clears Yuen (Richie Jen, former popstar) and his three other surviving gang members hole up in an eighth-story apartment in a hi-rise building, where they have taken dummy dad Yip (Lam Suet) and his two bright kids hostage and are being chased by the obsessed Inspector Cheung (Nick Cheung) and his plainclothes elite unit. Cheung’s team bungled the arrest and want to redeem themselves, but are unwittingly hindering the regular police operation that has on hand about 1,000 police officers to show the public they mean business.
After some embarrassing photos appear in the news of cops easily overtaken by the criminals in the first shoot-out the public relations specialist, Deputy Commander Rebecca Fong (Kelly Chen), to cover-up how the cops looked bad trying to apprehend the heavily armed bank robbers, allies with her friend Grace (Maggie Shiu) in the press and decides to feed the media staged news that will be a “great show” for public consumption to give the cops a needed better image. But this backfires, as the hoods use the webcam to give their side of the story and catch the police in lies and show their ineptness.
Everything is rudimentary, especially the social commentary. The dialogue is just stilted; the bullets do the actual talking. This is a film Michael Bay would green light in a heartbeat.
REVIEWED ON 7/11/2009 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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