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EXILED (FONG JUK) - action/adventure DVD review
EXILED (FONG JUK) rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Nick Cheung, Anthony Wong, Josie Ho, Francis Ng, Simon Yam
Director: Johnny To   Studio: Magnolia
DVD release: 04 December 2007   Runtime: 109 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio Tracks (original Cantonese; English 5.1 dub language track), The Making of EXILED, Behind the scenes

Wo (Nick Cheung) is a wanted man; why is never made completely clear. He's trying to start his life over with his wife, Jin (Josie Ho), and their infant son when four men come calling. The DVD package says two want to kill him and two want to save him, but that doesn't really come out in the stylish Exiled as far as I can tell. I suspect that something was lost in translation when the subtitles were created. It's a good bet that first viewing Hong Kong director Johnny To's 1999 international syndicated crime thriller The Mission, which introduced the characters featured here, brings motivations and backstory into much sharper focus.

The four men come into his home, bullets fly, but nobody is killed. The men dust off their coats and straighten the house up. They move in some furniture Wo had out in his truck and work together to assemble a nice home for Wo and his new family - eventually we learn that all the men grew up together. The men spend the night on the couch, and Jin asks them not to murder her family.

The next day, the men set out to do a job to set up Wo's family so that they may make their way after Wo is gone - it's important that the rules of honor be adhered to. Without these elements, this film would be a mindless hail of bullets, but these elements intact make for an interesting if somewhat incomplete study of old friends. We never find out much explicitly about their childhood than a picture that is seen a few times of the five men as youngsters.

The cinematography is beautiful. In one shot, a can of Red Bull is tossed into the air, and by the time the can hits the floor, the bullets have stopped flying; all the action has occurred in graceful slow motion.

I am still not quite clear on who everyone is in Exiled, why everyone is supposed to be killed, or which two of the men are there to save Wo (again I may blame this on the translation of the subtitles, and not having seen its predecessor), but I enjoyed the film nonetheless.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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