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Bullets Over Summer

Year of release: 1999

Genre: drama

Director: Joe Ma

Stars: Francis Ng, Louis Koo, Michelle Mok, Lam Mei Jing, Helena Law Lan, Wayne Lai, Lo Meng

Rated IIB for violence

Version reviewed: Mei Ah DVD

Bullets Over Summer is an excellent crime picture, even if there is not one really "outstanding" thing about it. Perhaps because it is that Hong Kong's (and the US's, for that matter) output has been so middling as of late, but this film is a throughly satisfying drama that showcases the brilliance that fans have come to know and love. Like many of Johnnie To's and Wong Kar-Wai's movies, at many points there seems to be nothing going on, but still the viewer is drawn into the proceedings.

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Francis Ng and Louis Koo star as two cops who are on the trail of a vicious robbery suspect. Like many crime pictures, the partners seem to be mis-matched, with Ng being the "straight" cop and Koo occupying most of his time chasing skirts instead of solving crimes. Eventually, they trail the suspect to an apartment building, and so they set up in another flat to do survelliance. Things become more complicated as the pair have to deal with the senile tenant (Helena Law Lan, in a rare role where there are no ghosts of any kind involved) and some new girlfriends (Michelle Mok and Lam Mei Jing).

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After a fairly vicious opening where Ng and Lai bring down a group of robbers, the film settles down and nothing of importance happens -- at least on first glance. Bullets Over Summer is most definitely a multi-layered movie; those viewers wanting to see tons of Woo-style bloodshed will most likely be disappointed, even though the action featured here is done well. What the film is really about is watching the characters develop, rather than shoot each other up. Both Ng and Koo (as well as most of the supporting cast) do an excellent job, and make this film well worth watching.

RATING: 8

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