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Hong Kong 2003
Directed by
Johnnie To
90 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Breaking News

Breaking News is a taut cops and robbers action film that starts with a bungled police surveillance that turns into a street shootout, all done in one 8 minute steadicam take. Respected genre director Johnnie To demonstrates his action credentials as he pitches a handful of criminals trapped in a high rise against hundreds of Hong Kong's (not so) finest.

The gunplay is standard stuff although To and his team of scriptwriters spice this up with lots of contemporary communications technology and will keep you on the edge of your seat rooting for the villains, led by Yuan (local popstar Richie Ren) who has the Tao of criminality down pat. His opposite number, Inspector Rebecca Fong (Kelly Chen), an ice maiden bent on regaining face in the media after having blown the surveillance is suitably unsympathetic albeit an unlikely nemesis (that she writes down the number of suspects on a sheet of paper hardly indicates a mind like a steel trap) for the super-cool Yuan.

The media satire is somewhat overplayed (but is at least less laboured than John Herzfeld's 15 Minutes, 2001) and the film, although offering glimpses of it in the various relationships, does not achieve the emotional resonance of Michael Mann's Heat (1995). It does, however, deliver an entertaining package of action and tongue-in-cheek style that will please even if you are not a die-hard fan of Hong Kong action cinema.

DVD Extras
: The making-of featurette is a slight promotional effort however in the 15 min Q & A session with To, recorded at MIFF 2004 the director discusses his working methods and film-making in Hong Kong.

Available from: Madman




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