(2011)
Punished


Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 02/03/2012
Summary: Revenge is beautiful

The best way to describe this movie, is to imagine this movie as an onion. It's really something simple, but what is interesting is the layers of complexity and suspense that will stings.

The storyline is a very typical crime thriller movie, which to most is predictable and average. Many might not enjoy the movie as it definately is not some pow-wow original movie, but what impress me is the level of detailing of the story which really boils down to lots of powerful acting, emotions, character development as well as truth/factual details.

It is to no surprise that Anthony Wong and Richie Ren manage to establish and wow the crowd with their acting, since both done this sort of character many times before. But what seems to interest me are the ladies. It's really interesting to see how Maggie and Candy both put up a stunning performance which really spills no beans about what's to come next.

I'm torn apart as on one side, I really enjoy the level of details to the movie and the character development while the flat and shallow storyline really kills.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 08/20/2011
Summary: The most emotionally powerful Milkway movie to date

Johnnie To returns to home field after the past two years spent on making romance-oriented movies. Here, he's the producer and let one of his long-time students and frequent ADs (Law Wing-Cheong) take the task of helming the movie. And this time, they took the opportunity to subject themes of kidnapping and ransom to envision familiarity in new angles.

First things first, I must say that this is probably the most powerful movie to have been made from Milkyway Image to date. It's clear to me that To wanted to make big changes with his new output, for which he has successfully accomplished. To and co attempted something new and daring here in that they hit the stride big-time in terms of reaching viewers emotionally through a story and its' characters. It's very seldom you get to sympathize with characters of this scale in Milkyway movies, due to To and co usually being in high favor of visualized and stylized storytelling. Punished changes that and marks a new era which may probably be made into a tradition from here on.

The movie is strictly story/character-driven without the need to excess the narrative. Apart from the main antagonist (his intention behind the ransom he got and his fatal decision remained unclear), every main character is well-written and given enough screen-time to clear their emotional states and further motivate their actions. There's even hints of character development of other character that are aren't crucial to the story, such as the tycoon's manager and the bodyguard's former boss. The most importantly is the underlying message of everything which is impulsiveness: it asks you what it can cause, how that it can prevent things from happening, and whether or not it's a good or bad thing. Through the tycoon, the bodyguard to the tycoon's daughter and wife, the bodyguard's shady assistant, and the kidnapper's accomplices, you will see how all this is told and resolved. Overall, the instances made shows a magnificent makeover in choices being made to produce a Milkyway movie that I hope will continue in the future.

Two things stood out the most to me though and what makes Punished totally worth seeing. The first is the acting. Richie Ren is someone I came to admire in Breaking News and he has since grown into a fine actor in his own right. But I think it wasn't until Accident that he started to show major improvements and here he keeps that up playing Anthony Wong's loyal bodyguard who will do anything to get things done fast while holding up his own private life outside the job. But the icing of the cake is none other than Wong himself. I haven't really been a fan of his roles in Milkyway movies (minus The Mission) because I feel he always plays the same cool, calm character with very little variety of acting. But he seems to really give insanely more effort I've ever seen from him as a hot-headed character who goes through alot to do as he wishes and to change himself, which shows in every single scene he appears in. Big bravura for both!

The second is the soundtrack. Punished marks a step further for the music composing (done by Guy Zerafa, David Klotz and Chung Chi-Wing) in Milkyway movies as well. Usually in Milkyway movies, the soundtracks consist of various instruments that wholeheartedly reflects the quirkiness/peculiars of To's personal storytelling (the reason why I love the music in his work) but as far as conjugating the music within the emotional context of the story/characters it's mostly non-existent because it was mostly about the beauty of the narrative. But To made sure that story/characters were main priority so decided to use instruments for more intensified and gripping effect. The music ends up somewhat conventional compared to other soundtracks but it's highly serviceable and still pays off having a new sound to it and fitting perfectly in the movie's dramatic scenes.

After seeing alot of changes and evolution with To and co in not just film styling but also them growing big balls of their favorite actors (first Lau Ching-Wan in Mad Detective, Simon Yam in Sparrow, now Anthony Wong in Punished), it's really incredible to see that Hong Kong still got talented people to produce great movies and keep the HK style of film-making away from declining.

Reviewer Score: 8