Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Longest Nite (1998)

I stumbled upon a copy of Longest Nite in a box set of Tony Leung movies. It was unexpected, but a happy accident since I had been looking for it since it showed up as listing as playing as part of the New York Asian Film Festival in 2009. I had wanted to see it at the festival but it didn't fit into my schedule. I was also happy since the set had a good number of films I didn't have and it was cheap since the place I got it is closing out the video portion of their operation.

This is a bleak dark nasty ugly film of the sort Hong Kong no longer makes. Tony Leung plays a corrupt cop who is trying to make a peace between two of three powerful crime lords on Macau. Things are going from bad to worse as word hits the street of a contract on one of the crime bosses. A tall bald headed fellow is wandering about and seems intent on collecting the cash reward no one knows who is offering. Worse for Leung is the fact that someone seems intent on making his life miserable beginning with a naked dead man in his apartment. Things only go down hill from there as Leung tries to unravel the plot and stay out of increasing trouble.

A fever dream of foul things this was started by one director, Patrick Yau, who shot five scenes before hitting a creative brick wall. It was then finished by the producers Wai Ka-fai and Johnnie To who stumbled around trying to stitch it together. The result is a really violent, bloody affair with no hope and no light. Much of the film operates in a seeming dream logic as it becomes clear that a greater power is operating just beyond Leung's view. Its all comes together in the end but until then its like being trapped in blood soaked nightmare with an occasional severed head. I'm kind of at a loss for words, this movie operates on a level somewhere underneath the surface and sends out shock waves.

I really like the film but at the same time find it rather disturbing. Its the sort of bleak rough edged crime drama that Hong Kong excelled at in the 1980's and 1990's but which it seems to have stopped making. If you want to know what all the hoopla was about Hong Kong Cinema in the late 80's and all of the 90's this is a great example.

Recommended if you can find yourself a copy and like rough edged mind warping crime dramas(the film seems to be out of print and only available on the secondary market at a ridiculous price)

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