Exodus (2007)

Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 11/14/2011

A really interesting topic that I would least expected to be made in to a movie. And the topic would be " how to kill all the bad man".

Yes, the movie is set where woman gather together discussing how to kill man that were deemed bad and unloyal.

Nick Cheung once again was perfect his bring to life his character. The twist and turned plots are interesting and this genre of movie definately just brings Hong Kong movie to a whole new level.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/04/2009
Summary: Strange in a strange way

In “Exodus” Simon Yam is compelling as a sergeant in the Hong Kong police force who is either slowly going insane or has already be driven insane and is realizing his plight. To say he is a very minor cog in the municipal authority of the SAR is to overstate his importance—he is a small part of a small cog that is unnecessary for requirements. A good day for him is when he is sent to staff a public complaint phone line and discovers he can slip off his heavy oxfords while answering citizen calls about lost dogs or missing grocery bags. Sergeant Tsim Kin Yip is the embodiment of Thoreau’s life of quiet desperation or Turgenev’s superfluous man. But things are about to change in profound and frightening ways that lead to his destruction.

Our sergeant questions a suspect who has been caught peeping into a woman’s restroom armed with recording devices. Assuming he is faced with a minor sex crime, he dismisses the claims by the suspect, Kwan, that he was recording the women to get proof of a plot in which the women of the world would unite to kill the men. Something about Kwan’s demeanor makes the sergeant decide to revisit the interrogation, only to find that his story has changed and that he is now willing, even eager, to confess to seeking sick thrills by observing the women. The suspect wants to discredit the story he told Tsim Kin Yip and hopes that it will be forgotten. It isn’t. Particularly interested in the story and in Yip’s desire to follow it up is Madame Fong, a senior police official in charge of the intelligence division. Maggie Siu plays Fong with icy perfection and is the key character in our willingness to accompany Yip on his seeming demented hunt for evidence of the gender based conspiracy. His quest is given a strange authenticity by Madame Fong’s obvious interest in his activities and concern that he might uncover something.

The startling opening scene has been commented upon and described below—I agree that it is an astonishingly effective piece of film making that, as the story unfolds, colors everything we think we know about Yip, his wife, the young widow with whom he has a night of rough sex and his male colleagues. The set design of the police headquarters where Yip and Fong spend most of their time is a work of art. From the odd looking sound baffles in the tiny interrogation room to the extremely open plan of not only the offices but the stairways and other common areas it looks disquieting. Unencumbered with interior walls, it allows conversations to be overheard and is made for lurking to overhear them. Oddly washed out colors and tilted film planes add to the unnerving strangeness of Yip’s surroundings. Edmond Pang with his creative team of art director Man Lim-Chung, lighting designer Chan Wai-Ming and cinematographer Charlie Lam Chi-Kin created a sprawling space that is somehow closed-in and claustrophobic, a telling accompaniment to Yip’s obsessed state of mind.

The story is skimpy on details. The information the viewer and Yip do have often proves to be unreliable or less important than initially thought. Yip is the ultimate unreliable narrator—even though it is told from an omniscient third person point of view we are always aware of what he thinks about what is happening to and around him. Any of his actions as a police officer, as a husband or as a friend, make sense when looked at in their immediate surroundings. But since there is growing evidence that he is either insane or being preyed upon by malevolent forces beyond his control everything he thinks or does is suspect.

“Exodus” ends with a thud, leaving a few “what was that all about?” questions in its wake which is really the only way a movie like this can end.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/01/2008
Summary: frogmen...

sergeant tsim kin yip (simon yam) has been a cop for twenty-three years and hasn't really progressed through the ranks as one might have expected. he and his wife, ann (annie liu), are living in a small apartment, waiting for their house to be finished; it's a pretty quiet life. however, when yip takes a statement from kwan ping man (nick cheung); a man arrested for filming in a women in a public toilet, he finds himself drawn into a mystery. kwan claims that he wasn't peeping but, instead, collecting evidence about a female conspiracy to kill men.

initially, yip rejects kwan's claims as fantasy but, after kwan's statement goes missing and he subsequently claims to have been, simply, peeping to satisfy his own perversions, yip becomes suspicious and finds himself intrigued by kwan's initial statement. despite the outlandish nature of kwan's revelation, and his subsequent reluctance to talk with yip, it appears as if something strange is afoot and yip quietly begins his own investigation...

despite mixed reviews, this being a new film from pang ho-cheung, i picked this up, with some reservations about how such a premise would translate to the screen. i shouldn't have worried...

from the opening shot, which could well find a place in my favourite cinematic openings of all time, i pretty much loved this film. the film, like yip's investigation, progresses at a pace that is dictated by the audience (and yip) being given only just enough detail and the suggestion of something bigger to keep drawing you in. it is, quite masterfully, understated. having already added another string to his bow, with 'isabella', pang (collaborating, again, with jimmy wan) adds another with 'exodus'.

the film seamlessly blends a darkly comic sensibility, with an atmosphere that sits somewhere between a subtle thriller and a cerebral horror, complimented by sparse, contemplative pacing and dialogue. alongside this, the cinematography, shot composition, production and lighting design, make this an absolutely incredible film to look at. the choice of locations, which appear to be spread somewhere between tai po and sha tin, combine to create a film which comes across as being very different from anything i've seen being produced in hong kong over the last few years. garbriele roberto, whose work on 'memories of matsuko' was also deserving of praise, contributes a score which compliments what is seen on screen, without ever intruding.

finally, simon yam. a great performance from a great actor.

so, this film may irk a few people with its deliberately languid approach, sparseness and pacing. not me, though; it just took me from the start and had me until end credits began to role.

just great...

Reviewed by: Tonic
Date: 02/10/2008

I really liked it. Personally the opening scene felt a little long, but that's the point - right?

The film throws a lot of stuff out there, it doesn't really resolve much - but still it's food for thought.

Certainly what I took away from the film was that if you look hard enough for something you'll probably find it - as you just made it happen.

Well recommended.

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 01/10/2008

Since Exodus comes from Edmond Pang, the director of the cult favorite You Shoot I Shoot, and is billed as a black comedy, you would think it would go down a similar road. The answer is "not really".

While Exodus is certainly a quirky film, it isn't as cohesive as You Shoot I Shoot in getting its' point across -- which seems to be here that women are materialistic bitches who are willing to kill men for the slightest provocation. Yeah, this isn't exactly a good movie to watch with the ladies.

Simon Yam plays Kin, a cop who's perfectly content to ride the pine doing a desk job, even though his wife Ann (Annie Liu, who unfortunately doesn't seem to have developed her acting ability since her debut in 2005's Ah Sou) keeps harping on him to get a "real" job so that they can finish remodeling their dream house.

While taking a statement from a suspect in a peeping case named Ping (Nick Cheung), Kin is told about a conspiracy among Hong Kong women to kill the men in their lives while making the deaths look like accidents. Kin doesn't believe Ping at first, but after he becomes involved with Ping's wife (Irene Wan), the proceedings around him take a strange turn.

This sort of thing is certainly more fleshed-out than your usual Hong Kong thriller. Thankfully, there's nary a ghost to be seen anywhere, and there's a much-appreciated lack of slow-motion montages while some cheesy Cantopop single by the latest EEG acquisition plays.

As a whole, the film certainly has a great mise-en-scene. Via cinematography from Charlie Lam and a sweeping score courtesy of Gabriele Roberto, Exodus has a pastoral, almost soothing quality to it, which is a bit strange (but still welcomed) given the sometimes tawdry nature of the proceedings.

Unfortunately, even with how well-constructed the movie is technically, Edmond Pang uses all the restraint of a hooker on a meth binge and rams the point of Exodus into the viewer's head many times over. There's some very obvious attempts to go for shock value, with drug use, liberal utterances of profanity, and a fairly graphic (at least by mainstream HK standards) sex scene.

It's quite surprising, especially given the somewhat more restrictive nature of Hong Kong cinema nowadays, that Exodus was only given a IIB rating. But instead of livening up the proceedings, these methods just come off as cheap gimmicks.

Combined with an ending that offers no resolution, Exodus is ultimately an interesting, but failed, experiment. It's still worth your time, but be prepared to come out of this with a lot of unanswered questions and a bit of a feeling that there was a lot of wasted potential here.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 12/30/2007
Summary: The battle of the sexes starts with a misfire.

The premise is an intriguing one: Police sergeant Yip (Simon Yam) is interrogating an alleged pervert Kwan Ping Man (Nick Cheung) over claims that he was spying on a women’s toilet with his video camera. In the course of his interview, Kwan starts to come out with a load of paranoid babble about women wanting to wipe men from the face of the planet. And that would have been the end of it except that Kwan’s statement goes missing and Yip has to interview him again – and this time the man confesses that he’s a filthy pervert and denies ever saying that there’s a conspiracy by women to kill all men. Intrigued, Yip starts to follow Kwan and hounds him as to why he changed his story. He starts to uncover evidence that indicates that women are indeed out to kill men, or is he being just as paranoid as Kwan?

Okay, I may be missing something here, but EXODUS is a whole 90 minutes in which nothing much happens. It is apparently a black comedy, and I have to say that I didn’t find any of it funny. The film starts with a bunch of frogmen on dry land beating another man under the watchful eye of a painting of Queen Elizabeth II, and this is explained later in the movie in one of the best dialogues of the film, but the rest of it lacks any kind of direction or sparkle. It is stylishly shot and with a wonderful musical score of piano pieces, but it is one of the most frustrating cinematic experiences I’ve had. It fails as a comedy, which is fair enough, but you would have thought with a premise as promising as this that it could at least deliver on a dramatic front. Alas, it doesn’t, and what you end up with is a whole bunch of nothing. It comes to something when you say that the highlight of the film is seeing Simon Yam murdering a Cantonese pop song on Karaoke.

The payoff, which I was sure was going to be intelligent if nothing else was, just left me thinking “I waited 90 minutes for this?!”

Such a wasted opportunity.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Brian Thibodeau
Date: 11/10/2007
Summary: What women want . . .

The opening shot, a slow, meticulous dolly backwards down a hallway, says it all. It begins with a tight close-up of a pair of alluring female eyes in a photograph. The subject of the portrait is revealed to be Queen Elizabeth II, and beneath it stand two men in swim trunks, goggles and flippers who light up smokes and casually redirect a Hong Kong police officer who has unwittingly entered the doorway at screen left. These must be cops, pre-1997, and as the frame continues to open, we notice two, then three, then four of these “frogmen” beating a suspect with mallets and phone books as he struggles violently to flee.

“All the hatred of this world are caused by men,” claims one of the film’s female characters, but as evidenced by this sly opening shot, much of it happens under the watchful eye of condoning women, and in pondering the question of why the female almost always outlives the male, as well as what they talk about when they go to the ladies’ room together, writer-director Edmond Pang, along with co-writers Cheuk-Wan-chi and Jimmy Wan Chi-man, have crafted a sleek black comedy that, strangely, doesn’t manifest most of its inherent dark whimsy until well into the final reel.

Nagged by a condescending mother-in-law who only sees value in a man who runs his own business, and long ago demoted to a desk job as a reward for interdepartmental whistle-blowing, bored and complacent Tai Po police sergeant Simon Yam—who we later learn was the redirected officer in the opening sequence—begrudges a favor to a fellow officer and agrees to take a statement from a peeping Tom (Nick Cheung), who foams profanely about a top-secret organization of women plotting the elimination of the male species, one unsuspecting rube at a time. Yam thinks little of it, until the report disappears from the evidence room and the suspect one-eighties his story after a visit from a contemptuous female senior officer (Maggie Shaw). Eager to learn why such a patently ludicrous story would need to be hushed up, he soon comes to the realization that Cheung was telling the truth!

Artfully directed and photographed (by Charlie Lam Chi-kin) with an emphasis on static, contemplative frame compositions that seem to grow organically from the modernist, zen-yoga architecture of the locations. The concept begs for a playfulness that the filmmakers seem to avoid until the last ten minutes of the picture. The build-up is played with such a straight face that sequences which all but confirm the existence of the assassination club pass with nary a raised eyebrow. Perhaps that was the point, but the shift in tone is nonetheless jarring. Yam underplays nicely throughout, as if his character knows all too well how ridiculous his mission might seem to those looking in. Fine music score by Gabriele Roberto features exceptional piano solos by Aiko Takai.

Reviewer Score: 7