The Mission (HK 1999)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/26/05
Producer: Johnny To
Director: Johnny To
Cast: Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet, Jackie Lui, Simon Yam, Eddy Ko

Struggling in a post-takeover climate, Johnny To's low budget thriller, "The Mission," is a pleasant reminder of Hong Kong's former days. Featuring an all-star cast, the story relies on tension and suspense to make up for the lack of kinetic action, and to obscure the slim production values. Mr. Lung (Eddy Ko) is a big businessman who gets targeted for assassination. His brother Frank (Simon Yam) hires five highly skilled men as bodyguards for Mr. Lung, consisting of James (Lam Suet), Curtis (Anthony Wong), Roy (Francis Ng), Mike (Roy Cheung), and Shin (Jackie Lui). Together, they work as a perfect team and protect Mr. Lung long enough to find the men responsible for the hits. But when one of them messes up, it causes them all to go after each other with surprising results.

A nice thriller with a very capable cast. While minimalistic, the cinematography and lighting are quite good, and Johnny To does an excellent job of setting the mood and maintaining the tense atmosphere. The action scenes are rather weak, and rely more on suspense than anything else. The soundtrack is also pretty terrible, which betrays the film's low budget. However, these unfortunate distractions don't deter from the enjoyment of the film and how the drama between all of these interesting characters plays out. It keeps you guessing right up to the end, and then afterward, there are still plenty of questions and ambiguities, which is rather refreshing compared to similar Hollywood fare.