Film-Forward Review: [BREAKING NEWS]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Directed by: Johnnie To.
Produced by: Johnnie To & Cao Biao.
Written by: Chan Hing Kai, Yip Tin Shing & Milkyway Creative Team.
Director of Photography: Cheng Siu Keung.
Edited by: David Richardson.
Music by: Chung Chi Wang & Ben Cheung.
Released by: Palm.
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: Hong Kong/China. 90 min. Not Rated.
With: Richie Jen, Kelly Chen & Nick Cheung.
DVD Features: Deleted scene. "Making of Breaking News" (3 min.) Trailers. Weblinks.

From a filmmaker known throughout Asia for making action sequences more eloquent and graceful than ballet, the vivacious Breaking News, like many Hong Kong movies of late, falls short of a story. It starts promisingly as a group of bandits nonchalantly evade the police in a street shoot-out, which is caught by news camera, thereby embarrassing the police department. An ambitious and calculating inspector, Rebecca (Kelly Chen), decides the only way to save face would be to control and orchestrate the city’s media by televising the gang’s capture. Problems arise when the police pin the bandits and their hostages in a high-rise apartment, drawing in all the local news stations – a Dog Day Afternoon with an Asian flavor.

But the comparisons end there. The by-the-numbers story here is weak, as it is never revealed what exactly the gang is wanted for nor does the film care to explore any of the characters (the poor subtitle translations don’t help). But before you cross this movie off of your list, be aware that the cinematography is well crafted and visually astonishing. The virtuoso opening gunfight is filmed in one take over a span of six minutes, full of 180 degree turns and elevations. The police infiltration of the high rise is also well done, adding suspense to this otherwise lackluster movie.

DVD Extras: The deleted scene (yes, one single deleted scene) reveals nothing, which is probably why it was omitted. The brief making-of featurette functions more like a promo rather than anything else. Michael Wong
March 7, 2006



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