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大事件 (2004)
Breaking News

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 11/07/2009
Summary: Johnnie To goes for something different

The unique style of Johnnie To's is something I've really enjoyed in many of his movies, and that enjoyment continues (or holds, as I've seen this a couple of times now) with BREAKING NEWS which, from a technical and stylistic standpoint, is well-made with filled with great visuals, production values, and everything that distinguishes a Johnnie To movie.

Something note-worthy is that Johnnie To was able to shoot BREAKING NEWS with many opportunities. He had a bigger budget and crew, and the production was co-funded by some big production companies so he had enough of resources to make something greater and something far from the limitations he alternated with while doing both artistic (THE MISSION) and commercial (RUNNING OUT OF TIME) movies in the past. But unfortunately, that's also a bit of a problem. Whenever he opts for commercial movies, his style isn't as snappy and fascinating as when he's doing the movies he wants to do. The style, touches, and execution is all here but the overall content is quite abused by typical commercial production traits.

If you ask me, that's a good and bad thing. Simply put, bigger budget/crew and more resources but less of an artistic movie which also means few "problems" (problems for To's personal choices), like the story/script (the whole media war thing between the media, cops and the criminals is definitely not Johnnie To) and the casting (Nick Cheung weren't really needed). But still, BREAKING NEWS is one heck of a movie that has all the feats that really makes a movie more than entertaining and satisfying enough otherwise; especially with a great technical staff and cast (Richie Ren, Simon Yam, Eddie Cheung, Lam Suet, You Yung, Maggie Siu, Benz Hui, and even Kelly Chen did wonderful performances) that impresses and supports.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 01/16/2008

First things first: the opening scene which is a single tracking shot using a camera mounted on a crane is technically accomplished and sets the stage for the rest of the movie but no more than that. It runs, at least on the DVD we watched, for six minutes and 48 seconds. Johnny To did a good job with the “industrial/mechanical” aspects of the shot—constant changes in focus and lighting, moving the camera and the action at the right speed and in the proper direction from each other, even keeping production personnel and equipment out of the shot. When compared to Orson Welles’s opening shot in “Touch of Evil” it is a decent workmanlike job. Which is unfair, of course—no one faults Mount Kilimanjaro because it isn’t as tall as Mount Everest so comparisons with the scene that created the vocabulary for this part of film communication needn’t be made. Other long tracking shots that are a part of cinema history, such as in “The Player” (Altman) “Goodfellas” (Scorsese) “Weekend” (Godard) “Irreversible” (Noe) show not only the main action but a lot of activity on the periphery of the frame or in the deep-focus distance that establishes the time, place, characters and ambience. “Breaking News” just shows a gunfight. It is a hell of a gunfight—thousands of rounds of ammunition fired, much of it at point blank range, almost all of it ineffective.

Five sound recordists (but no sound editor) are credited as are two composers. The sound design and editing are exceptionally well done while the score is close to perfect. One instance of this artistry is when the cops approach an abandoned and shot up police van. The soundtrack has a raspy, breathy sound that very slowly gets louder while the CID officers close in. This helps create a feeling of foreboding and almost palpably ratchets up the tension, a device has been used a lot--for example before the first appearance of the monster in “Alien” and remains it is still very effective. It was used again briefly when four CID cops mistakenly confront and almost fire on each other. Much of the score is cool jazz—a laid back and updated with synthesizer Oscar Peterson sound. It first becomes noticeable beneath Kelly Chan’s early scenes in police headquarters and is perfect for her striking beauty and overly placid demeanor. Silence and pure sound effects accompany a scene in which the CID cops warily move through the eighth floor of the building, a floor that should be empty of tenants. There is no sound at all for a few seconds, something that always grabs the attention of the audience. When there is noise it is just that—Foley effects of a door slamming, a security grate opening, a gun being cocked—which emphasizes how quiet things have gotten. And we know from long exposure to movies like this that when silence reigns, all hell is about to break loose. Which it does. Loudly.

Lam Suet is the only character that one feels anything about—he loves his children unconditionally and will do anything to protect them. He is in the middle of a situation he has never even thought of and tries to keep his son and daughter safe while the bullets fly.

Compared with this filial love and fear is the heavy handed and forced scene in which the two criminal leaders bond while cooking, talking about their hopes and fears over finely chopped vegetables and thin sliced beef. I think that this marks the spot in the screenplay where Johnny To ran out of ideas since it is followed by an almost interminable succession of explosions and gunshots including a gunfight in an elevator shaft is as good a place as any to deploy the “fast forward” button.

There are enough loose threads in the screenplay to open a textile factory. Simon Yam, playing the senior uniformed official in the Hong Kong police makes a heavy pass at the young and comely Rebecca Fong but then isn’t heard from again. There is an obvious romantic interest between Commissioner Fong and Supt. Eric Yeung but they act more like annoyed co-workers than lovers or even close acquaintances. When Mr. Yip is forced to answer his apartment phone he yells at a concerned relative “None of your bloody business” and hangs up. Neither the relative nor anyone else calls back. The Yip’s kitchen has an enormous amount of high quality food and restaurant quality cooking utensils and pans. Everyone always has grenades.

But what ultimately sinks the movie—or at least keeps it from being more than a slick bulletfest—are the dull, almost affectless characters. Neither the cops nor the robbers are people we can root for. They are simply there to shoot and be shot at or to act cynically while manipulating public opinion. Johnny To’s theme of perception becoming more ‘real’ than the reality it represents is intriguing one that has been examined in movies for decades. “Breaking News” doesn’t add anything to the discussion.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 12/14/2007
Summary: Not SUCH a great show...

With BREAKING NEWS, we’re back in familiar Milkyway “police-procedure movie” territory. This time, it’s the media in the spotlight, and the film looks at the way news is produced, used and exploited. The film follows a group of outlaws on the run from the cops after a lethal shootout. When one of their comrades is killed in action, they rashly decide to do a heist that quicky goes badly wrong. The robbers then go into hiding in an apartment block and a siege begins, with every moment being recorded for posterity by the Hong Kong news crews.

The use of the media as a weapon comes into play when a camera crew who happen to be filming nearby capture some of the initial gunfight, including a shot of a police officer surrendering and kow-towing to the robbers. Humiliated, the police set about putting their own “spin” on things, and it’s here that Rebecca (Kelly Chen) enters as a police media relations expert. She sets up a command post outside the tower block where the robbers are holed up and gets more than she bargained for when one of the robbers, Chan Yat-Yuen (Richie Ren), makes contact with her.

The opening scene of BREAKING NEWS is simply outstanding – a long and ferocious gun battle takes place on the streets of Hong Kong with the camera moving smoothly without a single cutaway. This single shot seems to go on forever and is so impressive and dramatic it really gets the blood pumping. At the risk of sounding like one of those bite-sized blurbs used on the front of an Entertainment In Video DVD, it "out-Woos Woo". From an opening like that you just know the only direction the film can go is down, and sure enough, it does.

What lets BREAKING NEWS down is the almost total lack of characterisation. No one is given much background (we don’t even know what the bandits did prior to their shootout at the start of the film) and this leads to an understandable dip in viewer interest. If we don’t care about the characters, there’s nothing to interest us aside from all the admittedly impressive visuals. A case in point is aging police officer Hoi (Hui Siu-Hung) whose uncontrollable flatulence is neither a plot point nor a source of comic relief. It’s one of the many things that are there in the film but don’t really serve any purpose. There are a couple of stifled attempts to bring in some of the old brotherhood and loyalty themes among the thieves, but it fizzles out without going anywhere.

The performances are similarly mediocre, with Nick Cheung and Richie Ren going through the motions and being largely forgettable. The presence of singing star Kelly Chen is played up, but to be honest she doesn’t really do a lot apart from sitting in the Command Centre looking good. She’s the kind of woman that makes you want to get down on your knees and thank God you’re a man, but she cannot carry a film and at times her performance is a little creaky. A saving grace is the presence of Lam Suet as the father caught up in the siege with his two young children. His interaction with the robbers is excellent and provides the only real tension that doesn’t seem forced.

Without going into details that would spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, the ending does pick up and once again it’s down to some great camera work and direction. So what you have, in essence, is a fantastic opening, a good ending, and a whole lot of gawping at Kelly Chen in between. It doesn’t seem so bad when I think of it in those terms, and at a shade under 90 minutes it’s the kind of film you probably wouldn’t mind slipping into the DVD player on a whim on a rainy afternoon.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/27/2006
Summary: compelling stuff....

Internationally acclaimed director Johnnie To has done it again with his ironic and poignant new film, Breaking News. Using a standard “heist gone bad” scenario, the director mixes irony and parody with suspense and dramatic action to generally skewer the media and the corporate/government types who try to manipulate the news to fit the message each party is looking to proliferate.

Casting of comedian Nick Cheung in the role of the Terminator-like police detective is a brilliant move. Cheung and rubbery-faced Hui Siu-Hung have a great deal of fun dealing with flatulence in close working conditions. Director To also manages to get the best performance of Richie Ren’s short career. His portrayal of the lead bad guy is quite good.

This film received four HKFA nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Siu Mei-Kei), and Best Editing.

En español: Director internacionalmente aclamado Johnnie To lo ha hecho otra vez con su película nueva irónica y conmovedora, rompiendo noticias. Usando “un mal” panorama ido heist estándar, el director mezcla ironía y la parodiar con el suspenso y la acción dramática para ensartar generalmente los medios y los tipos corporativos/del gobierno que intentan manipular las noticias para caber el mensaje cada partido está mirando para proliferar.

El bastidor del cómico Nick Cheung en el papel del Adaptador-como detective del policía es un movimiento brillante. Cheung y parecido a la goma-hecho frente Hui Siu-Hung tiene diversión mucha el ocuparse de flatulencia en condiciones de trabajo cercanas. Director To también maneja conseguir el mejor funcionamiento de la carrera corta de Richie Ren. Su representación del mal individuo del plomo es absolutamente buena.

Esta película recibió cuatro nombramientos de HKFA: El mejor cuadro, el mejor director, la mejor actriz de soporte (Maggie Siu Mei-Kei), y lo más mejor posible el corregir.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 08/06/2005
Summary: Nothing much happens but entertaining!!

Time flew buy watching this movie. Its about characters, more than the idea of too much technology, what the media feeds people in terms of information, finding the "true" story!!

Nick Cheung feels miscast though, Richie Ren does have to do much acting and neither does Kelly Cha, and Lam Suet steals the show as usual!!

Dont watch this for the action because your not going to get much!!


Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/06/2005
Summary: No danger means no fun.

Breaking News is a decent action film, but the lack of tension detracts from the overall feeling of the film. In a picture like this, the audience has to feel the danger created in the situations in order to connect with the characters. If there is a gun battle in the streets, one has to feel the risk and be sucked into the action. Unfortunately I got none of these feelings while watching this movie. The opening of the film is a 7+ minute, single-take gun fight between the team led by Richie Ren and the local cops, led by Nick Cheung. I assume the scene was supposed to be similar to the famous one in the Michael Mann directed "Heat," but it fails in comparison. Yuen (Richie Ren) and his team are so lackadaisical in the midst of the battle that you never get any feeling that they (or the cops for that matter) are in danger at all. They saunter down the street, casually firing their weapons in the direction of the cops and slowly get in a stolen vehicle. Later, when they abandon the car, they once again stroll down the street while a hail of bullets from the cops rain after them. I'm not sure if their attitude was supposed to show their callousness and complete lack of emotion in shooting at and killing people, but it did not have the desired effect. Instead you get the feeling that they are in a video game with an unlimited life cheat code entered. There is no fun if there is no challenge. Overall, the idea of the media being used as a pawn between the cops and robbers is a good one, but the tension that should exist is not there. The performances are good, but not enough to save the film from mediocrity.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: bkasten
Date: 09/27/2004
Summary: Serious...or not?

At times I was not sure whether this movie was a parody of a number of well-known and well-worn genres, or it was just a subtle message about public relations, or both, or just a fairly mediocre movie. Although in general I enjoy his work, given Johnnie To's mixed history, one has to wonder a bit...although I left this movie thinking the sum of its parts were much better than the whole.

Although it is hard to generalize about a director as prolific as Johnnie To, what I tend to enjoy about some of his work is a clear style he imparts, rather than the plot or the message (which may simply indicate bad scripts and good direction). Some of his films are something like a cinematic comic book or graphical novel (and I mean this in a good way). So in this fashion, I think this film delivers similarly.

To a certain extent this is lightweight film noir. There seems very little difference between good and bad and frequently we see they resort to the same measures. We also are led to like the "bad" guys more than the "good" guys. And here that is done in a not so subtle fashion.

This is also a movie about characters--all of whom are cool and heroic charicatures. You really want to see who they are, and what happens to them. It irresistably draws you in to an unrealistic yet fascinating world--a unique characteristic of old school HK cinema.

Nicky Cheung's character is one dimensional and completely and literally indefatigable. Terminator-like in fact, and to a certin extent he was homage or even parody thereof.

Nice to see Lam Suet again take a key role. He is really a highly used yet under appreciated actor. Although this role here nowhere near approaches that of his incredible role in "One Night in Mongkok" it is nonetheless enjoyable.

Unfortunately one glaring problem with the movie is Kelly. This is just not a good role for her. She plays a Hua-Ping role yet again, for which she has been rightly criticised. If she wants to be taken seriously as an actress, which I think she is truly capable of being, then she needs more dynamic roles which focus on her and her emotions rather than her icy beauty. I am afraid this movie has taken her stock down a few points.

Without a doubt the star here is Richie Ren. Although you never know much about his character, through cinematic effect he appears to be a deeply complicated, highly principled and likeable character. "The likeable bad guy." His character is the most human and believeable and one enjoys every moment he is on the screen.

Richie is a rising star and has become a potentially great actor. I look forward to seeing him in more serious roles.

Lastly, regarding stylistic trend setting, the bullet-ballet-like gunplay here was quite comical, a la the "American Old West" mythos depicted by Hollywood cinema for many years: literally thousands of bullets exchanged and expended at heroically close range. To a certain extent I see such depictions as the modern HK equavalent to the old school gongfu confrontations. In other words highly stylized, graceful, and drawn out, yet not particularly violent. I like that, although I am not always used to it. The exploding heads and extreme depiction of violence of Hollywood (and even the John Woo style) stands in stark contrast to this stylized and impressionistic method.

With a good in-depth screenplay this had the potential to be a very significant movie. Unfortunately, at the surface it appears to be a less than stellar actioner, one level below maybe a parody or what it appears to be, and one level below that, an enjoyable and stylistic film noir character-based movie. In than sense there is a bit more here than meets the eye and I think this is a decent movie that demonstrates that Johnnie To is certainly accomplished at his particularly unique art.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/25/2004

Johnnie To seems to be one of the few truly reliable directors left in Hong Kong, and Breaking News is no exception. Once again, he proves that his style cannot be piegonholed. The film feels closer in tone to his earlier works like Heroic Trio, but still has the artistic quality of his recent movies like PTU.

Breaking News -- like many of Johnnie To's best-known films -- tells a cops-and-robbers story. After the police are embarassed by an incident caught on tape of a group of robbers (led by Richie Ren) getting away, an upstart officer (Kelly Chen) suggests that the cops use the media to their own advantange. During a standoff with the robbers inside an apartment complex, both the police and the criminals try to use the swarms of media represenatives gathering outside of the building for their own ends.

The movie starts out with a bang -- a seven-minute-long continuous shot of the robbery. Sure, it's gimmcky, but it works, and the movie never really lets up from there. Breaking News isn't anything deep; it seems like more of an excuse for To to show off than anything else. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Johnnie To could probably make a movie about two guys eating hamburgers and make it seem interesting. Also, the actors take their work seriously, and this helps make the film more believable.

Even Nick Cheung -- who is normally pretty annoying in my book -- does a good job of portraying an officer who just wants to catch the robbers, not put on a show for the media. Kelly Chen doesn't really do too much, but luckily the other actors in the scenes she's in (most notably Richie Ren) pick up the slack. Several of To's long-time collaborators like Hui Siu Hung (who plays Nick's partner) and Lam Suet make appearances as well. Of course -- what would a Johnnie To movie be without Lam Suet? Here, he plays a beleagured father who forms a strange friendship with the robbers after they take him hostage. It's a relatively small part, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I think I can sum up my review of Breaking News with this: if you enjoyed Johnnie To's "lighter" fare like Fulltime Killer, you'll like this movie. It's that kind of film where you can't really explain exactly why you like it -- you just do. On the other hand, I can see where people might be disappointed with or outright hate this movie. But that's one of the great things about Johnnie To. While most Hong Kong film-makers are playing it safe in these days of dwindling box office returns, To is always willing to take a chance and try something different, and that is why he is one of the most vital directors working anywhere in the world today.

(review from www.hkfilm.net)

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 08/07/2004
Summary: Action WIthout Soul

Director Johnnie To takes a script written by committee and churns out "Breaking News," a cold, calculated crime thriller that is mostly action without any soul. To unwraps his technical skill in an attempt to dazzle the audience with a long extended one-shot opening scene to rival John Woo's hospital corridor scene in "Hard Boiled." The plot concerns a group of mainland Chinese, who enter Hong Kong for a heist, reminiscent of Johnny Mak's seminal "Long Arm of the Law."

"Breaking News" combines a bit of cinema verite with reality television, documenting a crime in progress, leaving the characters to define themselves through the actions they take. This method was very successful in "The Mission," but dangles the characters in "Breaking News" as the film loses momentum when there is a pause in the action.

"Breaking News" is To's response to the big, mindless, Hollywood, action movies that have been invading Hong Kong. And, if you can't beat them, join them. Along with the frenzied action you also get the same drawbacks, lack of emotional involvement and loss of urgency.

The main players, Nick Cheung and Kelly Chen do their best, but their under developed roles force them to be cardboard cutouts without any sense of motivation. For example, Kelly and Nick have a running feud that's fairly oblique and never really explained. Richie Ren, on the other hand, makes the most of his sketchy mainlander role to turn in one of the most effective performances of his career.

"Breaking News" is captivating and a pure exercise in technical splendor. Action fan junkies will be able to get their fix, but others searching for more substance will be left wanting. After a while the pyrotechnics lose their luster. As with a rush from too much sugar, you come crashing down after the buzz wears off.

Reviewer Score: 5