The Longest Nite (1998)

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 01/29/2016
Summary: Who is the dead body at my house?

Analogous to Expect The Unexpected (1998) and The Odd One Dies (1998) Patrick Yau is the nominal director but did not do the vast majority of directing for this movie (Johnnie To has stated he directed about half before To ultimately took over; I do not know how much To reshot). It is interesting to see reviews of its time praising Yau, though unfortunately he directed only one more film The Loser's Club in 2001. Yau was even nominated for Best Director for the Hong Kong Film Awards. He has no film credits since though he has directed some Mainland TV according to To. One wonders how much emotionally draining it was being pulled from three productions. Hindsight is 20/20 and you can see many of Johnnie To's trademarks and auteuristic touches here that were not as recognizable then, especially when many thought it was done by another director.

The Chinese title of this film translates to dark flower(s) which means the bounty offered (the successful hit price.) The noirish The Longest Nite takes place in Macau* and covers a maze and a morass of one day and night (reminding me a little of Run All Night (2015)) of a hit man Tony (Lau Ching-wan: Expect the Unexpected, Mad Detective) and a cop Sam (Tony Leung Chiu-wai: Happy Together). Johnnie To brings out a quite familiar thematic element of the Doppelganger (and Lam Suet) though uses it to an extreme here. The narration** starts by explaining that there are two factions led by Mr. K and Lung in Macau mirroring the real life 14 K and Shui Fong triads. Sam is a corrupt cop whose allegiance is to Mr. K. but is in the unenviable position of trying to prevent a 5 Million dollar hit on Mr. Lung. While this might seem advantageous to Sam there is a puppet master, a true Godfather, in Mr. Hung, who seems to be the only one who is actually in charge (it reminds me of that great Bela Lugosi quote in Glen or Glenda “Pull the string”) though he has not been in Macau in over a decade.

Tony (Lau Ching-wan) is a phlegmatic and sometimes suicidal hired hitman with a bald head, a tattoo and calm demeanor. He is so enigmatic that he sometimes seems more like an archetype than an actual human analogous to a Jef Costello of Le samouraï without the sartorial skill. He comes off not as evil as Sam, but there are no heroes here. Lau Ching-wan's acting performance is superb though. Tony clashes pretty quickly with Sam because of Tony's aura and is given a suggestion to get out of town. Of course we know Tony will not follow this sagacious advice. But are there ulterior motives behind Tony being there? And what role will Sam play in the scheme of things?

I am avoiding going into too much detail with the plot, but one might want to avoid the rest, except for the paragraph on the DVD discussion, if one has not seen this as there might be a couple of spoilers ahead.

It is amazing how much information you might miss when only watching it one time. Subsequent rewatches make you realize there are clues planted throughout, but one has to be careful of To's magician like misdirection. So much is given away with the phone calls of Tony early on but we might be paying more attention to the beatings from Sam. A casino worker throwing up was another example of carefully planned misdirection. At first you see an overabundance of coincidences, but some of them are actually carefully planned, though it does make a few seemed overly lucky like Sam finding Maggie so quickly.

There are brilliant moments throughout. I loved the “look ma no hands” driving scene. One of the better scenes of intimidation deals with Tony on an elevator when he politely answers a question "Did you come here to cause trouble?" with a serene yes. Would you have entered the lift with him? Contrast this with Tommy DeVito's "What do you mean I'm funny?" The cinematography is superlative with the highlights being the early moment in the dinner, another brilliant use of light with the jail scene and floating dust and of course the aforementioned mirror scene inspired by Orson Welles. This film might have even looked better in black-and-white.

There are allusions to other films throughout both past and future. According to Johnnie To the theme was inspired by the score in Midnight Express (1978). The jail scene reminds me and many other writers of Steve McQueen bouncing the ball in The Great Escape.** The warehouse scene is a homage to The Lady From Shanghai and was used earlier in Enter the Dragon and would later be used in another superb variation in To's Mad Detective. The torture scenes would take new heights in his Election series though the digit manipulation is reminiscent of The Odd One Dies and prolonged abuse like the slapping scene in PTU.

Because of the doleful nature of this and several other Milkway films To decided to be a little lighter with both The Mission and Running Out of Time. But I find it interesting to note that this film was the highest grossing Milkway film until Running Out of Time the following year. This is a brilliant modern-day noir with a byzantine plot that may be difficult to understand especially if you are not paying enough attention. While this did not have To's name on it, his touch is. Like most of his earlier films I feel this is vastly underrated and is a good watch for any fans of crime movies though you might have to watch it twice. You probably should watch it at least twice.

I watched this with a non-anamorphic letterbox Universe Laser R0/NTSC DVD. It is OOP. It has a Cantonese (preferred) and Mandarin audios. It has two Chinese subtitles (Traditional and Simplified) and an English one. For extras it has Stars' Files text (Chinese, English), a trailer, footage of the premiere (2m21s; Cantonese with no subtitles), Making of video (10m01s; Cantonese with no subtitles), NG Footage (2m58s; these are outtakes, no dialogue) and a Press Conference (6m16s; no subs though you can see Johnnie To buzz cut Lau Ching-wan's hair). While the video is decent a better release of this in either DVD and/or BD would be quite welcomed with translated extras and hopefully new ones. I do wonder why Criterion has not done a Johnnie To release.

* According to Stephen Teo in his wonderful book Director in Action: Johnnie To and the Hong Kong Action Films (2007), To had thought about shooting this movie in Cuba then in Buenos Aires but settled for Macau for both budget reasons and in retaining a Latin American influenced setting. It is also important to note that Macau would not be handed over to China until 1999 in which Hong Kong was handed over the year before this film's release.

** There was a preview version that did not have the initial narration, but was included afterwards because the audience found the plot confusing. Narration is relatively rare in Johnnie To's films with some exceptions like this and Fulltime Killer.

*** To is brilliant at filming little scenes of ennui analogous to Michelangelo Antonioni and passing time like the paper football match in The Mission. Look at how many films he can incorporate a cooking scene including Breaking News or Vengeance.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 01/19/2008
Summary: Complicated story, unique execution

This is perhaps the darkest piece from Milkyway or even in general that I've come across. The character portrayal consists of no good individuals or individuals dependent on themselves or others that can back them up whenever they need to but otherwise sticking to their own business; in other words selfish and cowardly characters with no sense of humanity. Tony Leung Chiu Wai as the cop is carrying his duty like the normal cop does but clearly goes for different methods to reach his goals and is affiliated with the underworld whom have more or less to with the cops. And then you also have Sean Lau as the extended arm of someone who wants to wipe out the major gangs once and for all and has all these little yet destructive plans to set up the situations for Sam and others to work out a drastic outcome, and also some additional characters to spice and twist things up a bit and effectively affect the movie a bit further. All this I would call pure geniality in character study!

Plus the choice of actors are nothing but brilliant (Tony Leung and Sean Lau alone make this a must-see piece)! But THE LONGEST NITE wasn't easy to catch up the first time though, even when you think the story is quite that simple. It's one of those logically explained movies where there are certain details that should be paid attention to in order to get everything going in your head, and with quite many details running by there's risk that one might miss the slightest thing and get lost somewhere thinking what was logical and illogical. It'll take some viewings until you understand and eventually appreciating everything. That said, I think it's rewarding for someone to put out such a movie where storytelling techs gets fully highlighted to tell a story in the most effective way, where everything but the story itself matters the most rather than other way around.

Hats off to Milkyway Image and their tricky, unique and overall original film-making style!

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 07/16/2006

Back in the summer of '98, this Patrick Yau film slipped in and out of the Music Palace in NYC's Chinatown before I had a chance to see it. Later I read and heard that the subtitles on the film [hence the VCD] were very small and virtually unreadable, so I was in no hurry to see what I perceived as hard edged and similar to producer Johnnie To's dreadful "A Hero Never Dies".

Well, shame on me. After Yau's Expect the Unexpected, I should've known this film would be interesting. The Longest Nite features Tony Leung as a crooked, nasty Macau police detective and Lau Ching Wan as a mysterious triad hitman. Two warring triad kingpins are supposed to make a peace agreement but, until they actually meet, both men may be killed at anytime by 'contract' killers. Leung's crooked cop is trying to keep things quiet for one more 'night'. He becomes involved in a mysterious and elaborate double cross and revenge plot set in motion by the 'boss' of the aforementioned triad kingpins. Leung is such a fine performer! I'm glad he is finally getting the international recognition he deserves.

This is a damn fine DVD. The tiny subtitles have been replaced with the classy new very readable ones in the black under the beautiful letterboxed image. It comes with extras like the trailer, footage from the "opening lens ceremony", interviews from the premiere, a "making of" segment, and some very cool "outtakes".

copyright 2000 J. Crawford

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 07/12/2006
Summary: 7/10 - more interesting than enjoyable

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai plays a cop who gets caught in the middle of a power struggle between rival Macau gangs, with Lau Ching-Wan as an enigmatic agent whose allegiances (if any) are unclear. The Longest Nite is set in a Macau dominated by gangsters, with the cops pretty much just another gang themselves... in fact it comes as quite a surprise when we realise that Tony is in fact meant to be upholding the law. It is the first surprise of many, as few people in the film are really what they seem, and the spider's web of events takes quite a while to reveal its structure.

Quite an ambitious and intelligent film, TLN suffers a little from the lack of a clear story in the first half of the film - although eventually we find out where it is leading, for a significant part of the running time it is difficult to develop a significant attachment to the characters or their story, because we simply don't know enough - we are just spectators to a series of events whose significance is unclear. This results in a film that keeps the viewer at arm's length, to be appreciated more intellectually and aesthetically than emotionally. Perhaps this is deliberate, since the main characters appear to be very emotionless themselves.

The film does satisfy aesthetically, at least, thanks to some excellent and atmospheric cinematography. A scene in a jail cell with impossibly large dust particles swirling in the shafts of light is particularly impressive. I was less impressed with the soundtrack to the film, which often seems out of place - the tone of the music does not seem to match the tone of the scene. I usually like Raymond Wong's work a lot, so I wonder if this was deliberate instruction from the director.

Speaking of "the director", although Patrick Yau officially has that title, internet folklore has it that Johnnie To was not satisfied with his work and took over the director's chair at some point in the production. Certainly there are scenes which are highly consistent with this theory, perhaps the majority.

Although it is an interesting and stylish film, the lack of real emotional involvement meant that I didn't especially "enjoy" watching it - there's only so far that intellect and aesthetics can carry a piece of cinema, or so it seems to me these days. Still worth a watch, but not as enjoyable (to me) as other Milkyway Image productions of the era such as The Mission and A Hero Never Dies.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 12/25/2005
Summary: A terrific crime movie

The characters in “The Longest Nite” exist in an atomic and anomic universe—people are bouncing balls, atoms in predestined patterns unable to change or influence their environment, their place in it or even themselves.

Patrick Yau and screenwriters can be extravagant and redundant in emphasizing their thematic points and at the same time use the same image in a strikingly visual and cinematic way-- for example that the characters inhabit a stifling universe of strictly bounded almost foreordained action is underlined by Tony (Lau Ching-Wan) bouncing a handball against walls of holding cell—as a symbol as such it used once too often a few minutes later at a key point in Sam’s (Tony Leung) disintegration but it is very effective as a purely visual effect when it unexpectedly drops from a locker.

Macau is depicted as a totally corrupt and lawless place. In one shocking instance which really hammers this home, a group of criminals marches into the office of a senior police officer (Tony Leung as Sam) to search it, going through his desk and demanding the keys to his safe. At first the casual outrageousness of this act is masked because it is also a moment of high tension—just before Uncle Fat and his thugs march in Sam has discovered a shopping bag full of money, which is the evidence of treachery they are looking for. He successfully faces them down with the bag sitting in his desk. The intensity of the scene shows how Sam’s world is closing in on him and his options are being eliminated by someone he doesn’t know—someone who is very powerful. At the same time it involves the criminals threatening and shaking down the cops, in police headquarters which is a bizarre reversal of roles.

There is a great deal of very casually inflicted brutality—a laid back attitude toward administering pain that Patrick Yau makes sure we don’t miss. In one instance Sam and his squad of police officers are destroying the hands of someone they want to make sure won’t cause trouble. While this horrific beating is going on Lau Ching-Wan, as Tony, gets a call on the restaurant phone. He ignores the assault and the cries of the victim to take the call and the scene shifts its focus to him with the battering becoming just part of the background. This is a place where the sound of the police doing their job—crippling a person they don’t like—is more of an annoyance than anything else. Another instance also involves Tony dealing with a suspect. In this case Uncle Fat and his gang are beating up a criminal whose head they have covered with a hood. Tony arrives to continue the questioning and increases the pressure on the hooded man by ripping out one of his fingernails. When this doesn’t work immediately he tells them to work on the other nine nails and then goes to a sink and very fastidiously washes and dries his hands with no more concern over his actions than if he had just used a public bathroom.

The structure of the movie comes from the return of gang leader Mr. Lung to the territory. He and his rival, K, are both suzerains to the enigmatic Mr. Hung and have been at each other’s throats for years. A deal has been brokered to stop the hostilities, a deal which will lead to the gangs being strong enough to break away from Mr. Hung. Tony’s job is to make sure that Mr. Lung gets to his headquarters safely, a task that is complicated not only by the many enemies that Lung has but also by the rumor that there is a five million dollar reward for anyone who kills Lung. We follow Tony during the very long night during which the threats to Lung and, more importantly, to him, escalate.

This is a very tightly woven movie with no loose ends, no characters introduced and then forgotten about and most definitely no cloying set up at the end for a sequel. The only significant flaw was the gunfight in an abandoned factory—like Hong Kong Macau seems dotted with factories that the owners have simply walked away from, leaving equipment intact, electricity still connected and plenty of hand tools that can be used as weapons. The fight itself was well choreographed and executed, although the constant use of mirrors—this must have been a mirror factory—is a bit much. Unfortunately it didn’t fit into the rest of the movie. While Tony and Sam had been running on converging paths, having them face off in a blaze of gunfire was not at all in keeping with the suffocating, claustrophobic dreadfulness that had characterized it up to that point.

The acting was uniformly excellent, led by the two principals. Lau Ching-Wan and Tony Leung are at the top of their form here. They are both enormously talented and charismatic film actors, as good at portraying characters as anyone currently working in front of the camera anywhere in the world. Maggie Shaw was perfect as the drunken bar girl who might actually be much more deadly than her addled persona indicates. Wong Tin-Lam, in his 48th year as part of Hong Kong cinema, played Uncle Fat, the cafe owner, easily going from impassive to threatening and back with all the ease and class of an old pro. Even Jimmy Lung, who had what was essentially an extended cameo as Mr. Lung played him with oily grace.

There were a number of elegant and understated touches that Yau brought to bear. One was obvious class differences among the antagonists, differences that were highlighted in several ways. When the tattooed, lumpen Tony first comes on the scene he is T-shirted and riding a bus; Sam, the striving middle-class bureaucrat, is dressed in a jacket and tie and drives a car; Mr. Hung is shown in an old-style long robe with turned back cuffs, getting into the back of his limousine to be driven. Another is the contrast in the tasks that Sam’s tasks, which become more complex and difficult as the time to accomplish them shortens compared with the simplicity of what Tony has to accomplish. Things are easy for Tony because he realizes that everyone—himself, Sam, Mr. Lung—really have very few choices in what they will do.

The cinematography was quite astonishing. One example is early in the movie when Tony walks into the restaurant where he later receives a phone call. Outside, the light from the sun is intensely, almost painfully bright. At first when he opens the door to the cafe (now show from the point of view of the inside of the cafe) the light he brings in with him is temporarily blinding but then is swallowed up by the dingy dimness inside. A quick tour de force of lighting magic that sets the restaurant as a place where dirty deeds are done and not even the sunlight can penetrate. Two cinematographers are credited and they must have worked together extremely well. The balances between dark and almost dark, especially in the nightclub scene and the scene in the alley with Maggie and the club owner were perfect. The gloom was all-pervasive but no important details were lost—quite an accomplishment.

A terrific crime movie.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 08/06/2005
Summary: Taut suspence - recommended

Since there are adequate reviews below to get a feel for the plot, I'll just make a couple points:

1. The positive reviews below are accurate. This is a very good film with an ending that's a bit weak.
2. Very strong performances by Leung and Lau. Nice to see Tony L. can play a nasty guy, too.
3. Even in 2005 this movie is not out of date.
4. When it was over and I was putting it back in the box I noticed it's only 84 minutes long. Unbelievable; I thought it was regular length. That's not to say it was tedious; it wasn't at all, it keeps moving relentlessly forward. That's why I was surprised to find out how short it actually is.
5. I can't think of another movie I've seen in which there were no good guys.

Definitely worth a look.

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 11/25/2002
Summary: The team behind Expect the Unexpected does it again!

Now we're talk'n! I got The Longest Nite, Sharp Guns and Beast Cops all in one week and liked them in that order. This movie has been reviewed 9 times so I'll just do my thing. Tony Leung! I never thought this guy could actually scare me! Pulling off a Yam and a Wong wrapped in one for a truely disturbed excuse for a human, and that's the scary part. As psycho as he is, Tony's character is all too real.
Oh, and that other guy, Lau Ching Wan. Whenever they start giving out HK Lifetime Achievement Awards, he better be on the short list because the man has RANGE. Watch this, Victim and Expect the Unexpected. The man deserves some credit.
Man, the same writing, producing, directing team as Expect the Unexpected.
Not only can you discuss the 2 films side by side, I think they had a hand in the poster designs as well. I gotta have them!
My dvd has tons of extas - interviews, premiere party, out takes.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/30/2002
Summary: Average

Well, apart from one of the best performances I've seen from Lau Ching Wan, this film has little else to offer. The 'thriller' sensation in this film is very limited, and most of it is like watching 2 men running around the place not knowing what they're doing.

If you like films like Running Out Of Time, then you MIGHT like this, otherwise this one should be missed.

Rating: 2.5/5

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 07/30/2001
Summary: Style over substance

I had been wondering what all the fuss was about. Having just watched the film, I am still wondering.

First, the good news. The cinematography is terrific. The visuals and look of the film nicely match the psychological warfare and smouldering stares which the two leads share so many of.

But, despite being a big fan of Lau Ching Wan, I just couldn't get into this movie. Nothing in the story or performances give one any reason to feel anything for or about the characters. The story is a bit hard to follow, and I suspect there's rather a lot of confusion there anyway.

What little of the story made sense was pretty strange. And the microscopic subtitles didn't help. I saw an LD print which was clearly a direct tran from the cinema print. And, worse, the dialogue was in Mandarin.

A correction to a comment in an eariler review. The repeated tune was "Chase", a hit single for Giogio Moroder in 1978/9, and it was the theme from Midnight Express, not Scarface.

A quote : "The body is absolutely woundless, only the head is missing".

Several tunes were repeated many times, Chase among them. Director Patrick Yau might have been trying to out-do Wong Ka Wai here. At least Yau has better taste in the tunes he picks to hyper-repeat.

In short, this film is terrific visually, but a big letdown in almost every other respect. If you're a mad keen fan of both Lau and Tony Leung, you'll probably love it. But be prepared for disappoinment.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: mehaul
Date: 07/04/2001

Good thriller with nice plot twists around crooked cop and hired gun; excellent acting and direction.

Reviewed by: tomliffe
Date: 06/23/2001
Summary: Milkyway's best

I consider this film to be a modern classic. So bleak and brutal and the two main leads are superb. I thought the ending, while looking great was slightly out of place, it kind of took some of the realism out of it but apart from that, a superb film! Thinking about it, The Mission would get joint first place with it as my two favourite milkyway films. It's got great character developement and it's so witty and stylish and it is just all round greatness :-)

Reviewed by: OC_Gwailo
Date: 05/06/2001
Summary: Milkyway scores again

TLN is a dark, moody movie with a minimum of gunplay at first, but no lack of violence, that builds to a tense (but sadly unrealistic) climax.

Lau Ching-wan, a Milkyway regular, plays the deadly calm Tony, a mysterious figure in disco denim who crosses paths in Macau with self-professed "bad cop" Sam, played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Lau is the baddest of the bad. I'm tempted to call him "the Asian Benecio Del Toro," and not just because there's a physical resemblance. Lau is the coolest guy to walk Portland Street since Chow Yun-fat left for Hollywood. And in many ways, LCW even surpasses CYF's coolness.

Leung's rumpled Sam--quite a departure from the suave Tony/Alan in Hard-Boiled--is not just a bad cop, but cruel, too. He spends the movie crushing the hands of hit men and sticking ice picks under their fingernails. Sam is trying to keep the peace between Mr. K and Mr. Lung, a couple of adversarial triad bosses trying to break out from under the thumb of Mr. Hung, the Biggest Boss. Only thing is, everybody starts turning up dead, and fingers (and guns) start pointing at Sam.

In staging the final confrontation between Sam and Tony, director Patrick Yau Tat-chi pulls out all the stops with the gunplay, but also throws out all the logic: apparently in HK there are abandoned warehouses with hundreds of mirrors strategically arranged in an upright position? Instead of the OTT firearms action that steps decisively into "enough already" territory, TLN would have been much more satisfying with a short, brutal hand-to-hand fight between the two bad guys, followed by the nifty little twist at the end that makes you go "hmm." Maggie Shiu gives both the strangest and the most fascinating performance in the film, as a neurotic club hostess who is not what she seems.

The DVD transfer is above average, but it's too bad it wasn't better--the picture is somewhat diffuse, and there is noticeable ghosting, particularly in night shots--because TLN boasts excellent cinematography and editing, with some funky and innovative scene transitions, quirky establishing shots, and visual flourishes. The music, however, is another story: the major musical piece is the Giorgio Moroder's theme from Scarface. Which is not a bad piece of music, but why not make some of your own? "Composer" Raymond Wong answers that question by starting the flick with a light, happy 12-bar synth blues piece that not only doesn't fit the mood of the movie, but returns to suck every last bit of tension from what should have been a very dramatic confrontation between Lau and Leung. It's a shame, because cheesy music is one of my major peeves about HK flicks, and some of Wong's other original music is pretty damn good. Of course, the ripping of the Scarface music calls into question the originality of the rest of the score, but Wong shows promise. Too bad he couldn't (or wasn't allowed) to write something a little more fitting.

While the movie's sound is not great, and the voice and effects sync is noticeably off, the Universe DVD includes the most extras I've seen on an HK disc, including star files and a movie trailer; a short "premiere show" with comments from Leung, Lau, and To, and an appearance by Simon Yam; a "making of" featurette; NG footage; and a press conference (Cantonese, no subs).

I have a great deal of respect for Johnnie To Kei-fung and Wai Ka-fai's Milkyway Image Productions. Milkyway is committed to making interesting movies with style, and their efforts put them head and shoulders above the usual profiteering hacks that dominate the HK movie industry. The Longest Nite is a solid and noteworthy bit of originality in the middle of a sea of hasty rip-offs and sequels. Now if they would only pay as much attention to the music as they do to the cinematography, they'd have, hands down, the best product on the market. [from www.hkactionfilms.com]

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/12/2001
Summary: Ummm.... not sure

I watch this with high expectations, especially with good reviews of it.

I think what hindered me was the small subtitles i had to read, which didn't help me enjoy this film.

This is a dark film, where everyone is a bad guy!! I can't give this a score because i am not too sure about how much i liked it but the ending is GREAT!!! Will watch it again and say more later

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 02/22/2000
Summary: Hong Kong Film Noir

"The Longest Nite," directed by Patrick Yau, (Odd One Dies, The (1997); Expect the Unexpected (1998)) is another film with Johnnie To as producer, and it has his fingerprints throughout. In this movie the hero and villain are pitted against each other in a battle of wits. The hunter becomes the hunted, a very oft used dramatic theme. Tension builds as we travel with the characters to see what the outcome for each chess move will be. People are not what they appear to be. The good guy becomes the bad guy, and sometimes we note how each is dispicable and cold and totally unsympathetic. We root for one and then the other as we are thrown off balance.

These are all classic film noir themes, where the hero is doomed from the the very start. You get that creeping sense that everything is going awry. Incident upon incident rolled into one rushing ball of trouble from which the hero can never escape or recover. Tony Leung becomes a pawn in Lau Ching-wan's game. Everyone is caught in the web of deceit. The viewer is led through a maze of confusion that is as lurid as the cinematography, exemplified in the jail cell scene where Tony looks to get a confession out of Ching-wan, only to be thrown off guard by one of Ching-wan's henchmen, nee cop. The air is filled with dust and cold snow-blue light, where we get the sense that nothing is as it should be. From the onset, the viewer is set up to dislike Tony's crooked cop, but by the time we enter the jail cell we don't know anymore.

To say more would spoil your viewing pleasure. Its as if we were passing a car crash--its ugly, but we just can't take our eyes away from the gruesome scene. Tony Leung puts in another outstanding performance. He has a way of conveying pain and confusion, all in one glance. The climax in the mirror factory, obviously melodramatic, was effective in obscuring and transposing the characters played by Leung and Lau. Suffice to conclude that the fun is in the hunt, not for truth, because nothing seems real, but for the trapped feeling we dread in "The Longest Nite."

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/25/1999
Summary: Among 1998's finest achievements....

Among the best films of 1998, Patrick Yau's The Longest Nite is one of the bleakest, and one of the best crime films I've seen in a long time. The plot is a rich tapestry of betrayal, mystery, and deceit, all handled to perfection by two of Hong Kong's most accomplished veterans, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Lau Ching-wan (who sports a shaved head). These men give rich, multidimensional performances, and generate so much chemistry on screen together that it is an exhilirating experience on it's own. Although highly convulated, and sometimes illogical, the film keeps you glued during it's short 85 minute duration. My only real gripe is the obligatory action sequence, which is interesting enough, but brings the film's realism and intrigue to a screeching halt. Yet despite this, I wholeheartedly recommend The Longest Nite, a refreshing new masterpiece that is another winner for the Milky Way Image company.
(Note- all VHS and VCD copies sport small, nearly unreadable subtitles that is especially evident during Tony Leung and Lau Ching-wan's tense prison scene (which is filled with bright, glistening lights, making the subs disappear). If you really want to enjoy this great film, I'd suggest you view the DVD, which have large, remastered subs, while retaining the original widescreen scope.)

Rating: 9.25/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 12/11/1999

One of the best of '98, and a new classic in my opinion. Strong performances, excellent pacing, good sense of atmosphere, a complex plot that rarely makes concessions to the feeble-minded, and a screenplay that wastes very little time getting down to business. There are a few technical flaws, and the endings feels a little simplistic, but overall this is an excellent film.