AKA: One Night in Mongkok
One Nite in Mongkok
From the moment it starts, One Nite in Mongkok presents itself as a solid, gritty and hard-hitting drama that marks itself as one of the best films of the year from anywhere in the world with its' unflinching portrayal of both sides of Hong Kong's crime underworld. This type of movie is especially appreciated in this day and age, since Hong Kong films lately seem to be more concerned with stuffing as many pop stars in a picture as the producers can, rather than concentrating on the actual output. In One Nite in Mongkok, there's no slow-motion soft-focus over-filtered shots of people kissing while a Cantopop ballad blares in the background -- and I, for one, am very thankful for that.
In the movie, Daniel Wu plays a mainlander hired by Lam Suet to settle the score between two competing street gangs by knocking off one of the "big brothers". However, a team of cops led by Alex Fong knows what's going on, and look to put a stop to the planned killing -- after all, no one wants a gang war on Christmas Eve. During the course of the night, loyalities on both sides of the law are put to the test as the assassin tries to carry out his job while staying one step ahead of the cops and the Triads.
As with one of his previous movies Task Force, director Derek Yee shows a great touch for fleshing out the characters in what some might see as a standard Hong Kong crime drama. There are really no scenes which scream "exposition", yet Yee manages to tell us a lot about the characters in a relatively small amount of time. I especially liked the way the interaction between Daniel Wu and Cecilia Cheung (who plays a sympathetic hooker) was handled. Enough was done to show their deepening relationship, but there wasn't any out-and-out "I love you" types of moments.
Along with the solid story-telling and acting, there's also some good action as well. It's nothing of the John Woo or Jackie Chan variety, but there are several brutal scenes -- especially towards the end, where some beatdowns on Daniel Wu frankly left me a bit unsettled. But that's one of the great things about One Nite in Mongkok. It doesn't try going for the easy way out or the happy ending. It's a complex and challenging film that should satify both new fans and long-time connoisseurs of Hong Kong crime pictures.