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One Night In Mongkok

cast: Alex Fong, Daniel Wu, Cecilia Cheung, Anson Leung, and Monica Chan

writer and director: Derek Yee

110 minutes (15) 2004
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan Asia Extreme DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
In spite of the predictability of its plotting, right up to - and including - the darkly tragic finale, One Night In Mongkok (aka: Wong gok hak yau) is a rather good Asian crime thriller, verging on greatness with its contemplative mood and strong central performances.

In the most densely populated district of Kowloon, a gangster's son kills another brat during a drunken 'road rage' incident that also leaves a girl horribly burned. The fragile truce between local triad leaders is subsequently broken and, while he contends with the late addition of rookie cop Ben (Anson Leung) to his close-knit team, top detective Miao (Alex Fong) heads the operation to catch a hitman from out of town, Lai (Daniel Wu), hired for a revenge killing that may result in a huge gangland war. Both aided and hindered by sympathetic hooker Dan Dan (Cecilia Cheung), Lai has to evade both plain-clothes officers and uniformed riot police at the year's busiest time for 'business'. It's Christmas in Mongkok...

There are key roles in the slowly unfolding drama for slippery underworld figures at every level of criminality, from street hustler to desk-jockey, overdressed pimp to lowly whore, while the motley crew of cops swap philosophical notes and try to keep one another out of harm's way, while maintaining the pretence that they are a different breed from all the junkie informants and assorted lowlifes which every 'good' cop must associate with, and relate to, in order to do their job effectively in an overcrowded town. Occasionally nasty and brutal, this is a powerful and quite moving story about conscience or the lack of it, viewed with a sincere compassion for both sides of the law. The battle lines are drawn and simmering hostilities can only escalate into fast-gun shootouts, just when it appears that matters are settled and the impending crisis has been defused.

DVD extras: deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, Hong Kong premiere footage, a trailer, and film notes by Justin Bowyer.

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