Cheung foh [The Mission] (1999)

(On TV, January 2001) One of Hong Kong Action cinema’s strongest selling point is its sheer demented nature. Rather than waste time establishing realism, Hong Kong Action works on hypercharged kinetism, extreme theatrics and guns that don’t need reloading. The Mission tries to break away from this style with a slightly more realistic approach, but the result isn’t nearly as successful. The atmosphere and tone are much more somber, with unsweetened violence and -especially toward the end- a constant paranoia of sudden aggression. There are also too many main characters to deepen any of them. The action is brief, humorless, often without any of the suspense of the best examples of the genre. The Mission will do on a slow afternoon, and does work on several levels, but don’t expect it to be as entertaining as the other typical representatives of the genre.

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