The Runaway Pistol

Year of release: 2002

Genre: drama

Director: Lam Wah-Chuen

Stars: Wilson Yip, Barbara Wong, Wong Yik Nam, Kenneth Bi, Crystal Lui, Chuen Jum Yuk, Mike Lau, Yi Zhou

Rated III for violence, language, drug use, nudity and sexuality

Version reviewed: Deltamac DVD

You might not normally think of a Category III movie as offering something for everyone, but this canny offering dumps just about everything into the mix and offers up a satisfying cinematic stew. There's some gunplay for action junkies, some T&A for the raincoat crowd, some serious drama and inventive plot twists for the "arty" movie viewer -- there's even a bit of comedy and romance thrown in for good measure. Sometimes, this kind of "kitchen sink" method can end up being a big mess (ala some of Wong Jing's lesser efforts), but The Runaway Pistol pulls it off, and gives us one of the best HK movies of 2002.

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The film revolves around a pistol that makes its' way to various owners, from a low-level Triad to a successful businessman. Each owner brings with them a different story, but the appearance of the pistol always brings a similar (and tragic) result. There is not really a plot per se here -- we see how the gun affects a character's life before moving on to the next. Often, there is no full resolution for the characters, but this fits in with the movie, highlighting how violent deaths simply can't be neatly wrapped up.

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The Runaway Pistol's gimmicky story and quirky camerawork (which uses a lot of split screens and filter effects) may be off-putting to some viewers, but this sort of schizophrenic approach helps give the film a nice visual flavor -- striking a good medium between the amateurish crap featured in many new releases and the overly "artistic" and confusing stuff used by a lot of "hip" directors. Like the film as a whole, the camerawork might not be what you're used to seeing in a HK movie. But for those viewers willing to take a chance and go beyond the usual gun-fu or slapstick comedy, The Runaway Pistol is a great example of the "new New Wave" of HK cinema.


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