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走火槍 (2002)
The Runaway Pistol

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 06/05/2008
Summary: unique imagery

Very kinetic and hipper than hip, this film is, maybe, the most avant-garde, personal work produced in Hong Kong by a mainstream artist that I can remember. Cinematographer Lam Wah-Chuen uses a variety of formats to create an intriguing, compelling vision. This is a movie where any conventional "narrative" style is secondary to the unique imagery. It has its dark and disturbing moments, going places where few Hong Kong movies have gone in the past 15 years.

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Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

You might not normally think of a Category III movie as offering something for everyone, but this canny offering dumps just about everything into the mix and offers up a satisfying cinematic stew. There's some gunplay for action junkies, some T&A for the raincoat crowd, some serious drama and inventive plot twists for the "arty" movie viewer -- there's even a bit of comedy and romance thrown in for good measure. Sometimes, this kind of "kitchen sink" method can end up being a big mess (ala some of Wong Jing's lesser efforts), but The Runaway Pistol pulls it off, and gives us one of the best HK movies of 2002.

The film revolves around a pistol that makes its' way to various owners, from a low-level Triad to a successful businessman. Each owner brings with them a different story, but the appearance of the pistol always brings a similar (and tragic) result. There is not really a plot per se here -- we see how the gun affects a character's life before moving on to the next. Often, there is no full resolution for the characters, but this fits in with the movie, highlighting how violent deaths simply can't be neatly wrapped up.

The Runaway Pistol's gimmicky story and quirky camerawork (which uses a lot of split screens and filter effects) may be off-putting to some viewers, but this sort of schizophrenic approach helps give the film a nice visual flavor -- striking a good medium between the amateurish crap featured in many new releases and the overly "artistic" and confusing stuff used by a lot of "hip" directors. Like the film as a whole, the camerawork might not be what you're used to seeing in a HK movie. But for those viewers willing to take a chance and go beyond the usual gun-fu or slapstick comedy, The Runaway Pistol is a great example of the "new New Wave" of HK cinema.

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Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/05/2003

Directed by Lam Wah Chuen and starring a number of well-known directors in the cast (including Wilson Yip), this low-budget movie is actually surprisingly well done and a lot more effective and memorable than numerous recent big name movies. It's an episodic tale of a British army revolver that is passed on from owner to owner, in the process causing death and destruction for pretty much everyone it comes into touch with. The gun also serves as the film's narrator, lamenting its fate in a number of voiceovers.

The stories of the people that come into possession of the gun play like poignant little vignettes of greed, cruelty and violence that give the movie overall an increasingly bleak and depressing outlook. From drugged-up young criminals to self-loathing prostitutes to repressed cuckolds to illegal mainland immigrants, they all come to a bad and in many cases bizarre end. In fact, towards the end, the fate of the abducted young child leaves the audience in dismay with a final, harrowing blow that is almost too painful to watch.

The various episodes are held together quite nicely, coming full circle at the end. A number of slightly mannered narrative tricks, as well as recurring visual cues such as the various fish prominently displayed further add to the narrative cohesiveness. The film at times feels like a slick version of the urban landscape depicted by WKW in Fallen Angels, only much more bleak and sometimes bordering on cyncical, cruel absurdity.

This is a very good, smartly written and truly captivating movie. Strongly recommended.