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非常突然 (1998)
Expect the Unexpected

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 01/18/2008
Summary: Quite surprising

This was quite a movie! As usual with Johnnie To and his company Milkyway Image you can always expect and depend on a well-crafted piece where everything in frame is being considered and carefully executed. Simple plot lines, out-of-date character development and everything else clichéd seems at this point nonexistent cause they become something much more lively and unique with the use of those movie techniques (both already in and added in frame) to refreshing effect, to the point of the reason why the Milkyway rep continues to rise.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED deals with cops and criminals catching and robbing respectively and stays primary on those camps. And then you have a couple of characters added in between the conflict that's got more or less to do with them. What could Johnnie To possible do to spice things up a bit for both camps as well as the added characters? Adding subplots for each of the characters of both camps and the added characters gives the movie a much more complete perspective on not only the primary situations considered but also on the generic life. This gives an impression of an overall message on how scary, unbelievable and, above all, unexpected things in life can get for people who aren't aware of such things, even in a life that's seems great or mistake-free (hence the title of the movie). If this is the case then that's nothing but pure brilliance and unique for Johnnie To's part. On top of that, I think I haven't seen a movie with such premise before which shows in not only in the outcome but also throughout the various character relationships. Again, simply incredible!

The cast-members perform flawlessly and the choices of choosing actors is excellent; I believe this is the only pairing of Sean Lau and Simon Yam in a movie which is one of the main reasons to see the movie and then you also have some terrific supporting players like Ruby Wong and Benz Hui that help make the movie be moody, in context and believable. Plus the script, the music score, direction and production are all top-notch and quite event so for those who hunger for something different from someone new to particular knowledge, start with this movie followed by other equally brilliant Milkyway movies.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: poor show...

i've only seen two other milkyway image films; 'spacked out', which i quite liked, and 'the longest nite', which i thought was okay at best; i've been thinking about re-visiting it though...

this, i thought, was poor. i quite enjoyed the two shoot-outs at the end, but that's about it. i didn't really care what was happening and i didn't really like anyone in the film.

there were times where it seemed to be trying to shock that just came across as them trying to hard, the chemistry between the characters was non-existant and the humourous inserts seemed forced and out of place.

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/18/2005

This movie depicts the Hong Kong police force as completely incompetent. The O Department which is headed by Ken is trying to find three incredibly vicious gangsters who kill, rape and torture with impunity. At one point Macy, very well played by Ruby Wong, does a quick tabulation of the carnage and realizes that the bad guys have already shot over a dozen police officers and killed four of them. Earlier the three of them had shot their way out of a police ambush set specifically to catch them and later on the bodies Hong Kong’s finest are stacked like cordwood. The body count among the forces of law and order is just too high for one (at least this one) to suspend belief. That they have confused two sets of mainland criminals—one is professional, hardcore and extremely violent, the other is made up of bumbling amateurs who do everything wrong but are still able to escape from the cops—increases the anxiety level.

Oddly enough, more screen time is spent on a possibly growing romance between Ken and Mandy, a key witness to the beginning of the crime spree than on stopping the criminals. Sam, played to laconic perfection by Lau Ching-Wan, is either helping them along or trying to sabotage the budding relationship. Sam is a bit of a schemer and takes chances—selling contraband cigarettes in the police station shows he is willing to flaunt authority. Doing so while the command officer who supplies them is under investigation by the ICAC (Internal Security) shows he is too dumb to know when to stop. According to the star notes on the DVD, this was the first major role for former model and commercial actress Yoyo Mung. She is very attractive and was not out of place in this tailor made role. Old pros Hui Siu Hung, a cop, and Lam Suet, a robber, were excellent.

Shifting camera planes during the investigation of the crime scenes added to the sense of things being out of kilter as does some of the atmospheric lighting for interiors. Other than the police conflating the two sets of robbers, the audience sees the action unfold as the protagonists do—we don’t know any more than the cops do about the situation and find out important points when they do.

“Expect the Unexpected” is a nihilistic take on the hard edged cop drama. There is brutal violence always just below the not very placid surface of the SAR. No one—neither elderly women nor young children nor anyone else—can escape the constant eruptions of gunfire. And one’s home is less safe than the streets—the most mind boggling and disgusting assaults happen in the apartments of innocent people.

There is a lot to be said for violating the conventions of mainstream genres—it can help to open up what had become a closed system and breathe new life into moribund forms. Shocking the audience and thwarting its expectations is one way to not only call attention to oneself but also show that there are new ways of looking at an art form. But simply introducing characters in order to kill them off is cheating. It is too easy, the lazy way to show how transgressive one can be, and proves nothing.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/09/2005
Summary: a new standard.

Screening 9/21/98 with Aman Chang's Tricky King at the Music Palace Theater

Simon Yam is Ken, cool and righteous leader of the 'O. Dept.', a special duty unit of the HK police. His squad of six officers is thrown into a bizarre crime scene investigation in the aftermath of a botched armed robbery attempt.

Lau Ching Wan is Sam, the 2nd in command, also cool but not as proper as Ken in following police procedures. Sam is a loose cannon, involved in 'under the table' dealings within the police station such as distributing American cigarettes and betting on horses.

Together they are a formidable team. The two individuals share a bond of mutual respect expressed in knowing as well as disapproving glances that are exchanged through out the film.

Under the inventive direction of Patrick Yau, this movie has a different and wonderfully fluid narrative style. What could have been a standard police action yarn is a really fresh look at the 'SDU' sub-genre of Hong Kong cinema. With martial direction by Yuen Bun, the film opens with an intense sequence involving two sets of crooks.

Three bungling mainlanders try to rob a jewelry store in crowded Hong Kong. When things go awry, one of them stumbles into a building where the second group is hiding out. More dangerous and much more heavily armed, this crew blasts away, killing at least a dozen of Hong Kong's finest.

Enter Ken and Sam. The stars of the film don't appear until about 25 minutes into the story, This is not a problem as the opening sequence is never boring. When Yam and Lau finally appear on screen, these fine actors waste no time involving the viewer in their world. The performances of the two leads in conjunction with the supporting players on the squad make Expect the Unexpected a new standard of 'heroic bloodshed' films.

Copyright © 1998 J. Crawford

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/26/2003

A group of inept Mainland criminals botch a jewelry store robbery. The cops, led by the straight-laced Ken (Yam) and the wise-cracking Sam (Lau), begin to investigate the case and quickly confuse the jewel thieves with a group of hard-ass Mainland robbers staying in the same area. Turns out the "tough" Mainlanders have a nasty habit of doing home invasions and raping the occupants for several days while planning their next robbery. Ken and Sam soon realize what the "real" robbers are up to and must stop them before more innocent people are hurt.

Expect the Unexpected is a very uneven movie. It's almost as if two movies -- a cop action/drama and a romantic character study -- have been thrown together. The romantic parts are somewhat entertaining. One funny bit has the rejected Sam "lip-synching" a conversation between Ken and Mandy (Mung), a woman they both desire. But really, they don't add anything to the film as a whole. One particular subplot, dealing with one of Ken's subordinates after he is shot by the Mainlanders, is totally unnecessary and slows the movie down. I'm all for fleshing out characters in a film (especially in the crime genre, which all too often feature "cookie-cutter" stereotypes) but not if it comes at the expense of the story. We really don't need to know about all the intimate romantic details of every character's life.

However, the parts focusing on the cops' pursuit of the Mainlanders are extremely well-done, with heaps of suspense and crackling action sequences. It was during these sequences that I found Expect the Unexpected most rewarding. I admire what Yau and other "new New Wave" film-makers are trying to do within the HK crime genre, but sometimes they should just let a good crime drama be. If Yau had decided to focus just on the crimes and not the "crimes of passion" of the cops, this might have been a great movie. It's still very good, though, and the title is quite prophetic. The ending is unexpected. I have watched dozens of movies of this type -- I was surprised and I'm sure you will be too.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/25/2003

Check this one for sure!


Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 01/22/2003
Summary: Very good

As the title suggests, this movie is a little unpredictable. It's a cops and robbers movie but the emphasis is not on the action but the characters. Lau Ching WAn's character easily dominants most of the screen time, which is a shame because Simon Yam looks left out.

The action at times is bloody but necessary to show how life really is on the streets and what gangs may do to do there so called jobs.

An unexpected ending, and some feel like, thats it, but they probably didn't realise that the movie has gone on for 1.5 hours...........because the movie is worth the watch!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: S.A. Winters
Date: 11/14/2002
Summary: Once again, good cops try to get a break........

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected is one of the best cop movies of the past 5 years. If not wholly original, at least it’s ambitious enough to turn some cliches on it’s ear. The plot is very standard fare. An elite OCB Unit goes after a bunch of sleaze bags involved in a botched heist that leaves many innocent people, cops included, dead. In between the gunplay you have subplots of the complicated relationships of the police force.
Here is were you will find some of the best performances of Simon Yam and Lau Ching Wan. Yam, when not playing a full blown psycho, is usually boring as hell ( as in Casino or To Where He Belongs) but here his understated performance is perfection. Always walking a fine line between charming and tragic, he wants to be part of the brotherhood that the rest of his unit shares but his responsibilities as a leader prohibit him to do so. Lau Ching on the hand is Mr. happy go lucky, selling black market smokes, playing jokes. Or is it just a cover for a loneliness aching inside?
That would be my only problem with this film; so many moments yell out to the audience, “ I bet you didn’t expect that!”
From relationship issues (we’re talking romantic, friendship, adversarial…) to moments that make you say, “ I didn’t see that coming! The script seemed a bit forced in giving us a switch at every turn. Anyway, that’s a minor complaint considering the great characters, their complex situations and an overall satisfying movie experience.
The DVD that I purchased had a ton of extras as well. Along with the typical trailers, stars files and subtitle options it came with, get this, Premiere Show, Star Interviews and Extra Footage. They weren’t subtitled but everyone seemed to be having a hell of a time!

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

There is no question that this film lives up to its title. There are events that happen that you would have to be psychic to
have predicted, particularly the ending. While normally this would have me raving about a film (I love atypical movies) I have
to say that I am somewhat abivalent about this one. I respect it a lot and I think it was very succesful in what it set out to do,
but it is not necessarily entirely enjoyable. To explain exactly why would be the mother of all spoilers so if you want to know
exactly what I'm talking about, you'll just have to watch the film.

The movie basically revolves around a squad of police led by Simon Yam. The squad also includes Lau Ching-Wan and
several other actors, whose names I don't know, who play supporting roles in the film. At the beginning of the film, a group
of three incompetent criminals attempt to rob a jewelry store. During their getaway, one of them goes into a building where
another criminal is staying. This criminal is with a much more competent group and during his escape they draw the
attention of the police.

The other main character is a restauranteur named Mandy (I don't know this actress' name either), whose restaurant is
across the street from the jewelry store. In addition, the other group of criminals also visits her restaurant and harasss her.
She, Simon Yam, and Lau Ching-Wan form sort of a love triangle, though only sort of.

Basically, the film is a mix of police action with romantic dramedy, with a bit more of the former than the latter. There are
some great moments of comic relief sprinkled throughout the film. However, it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to
the police work aspect of the film, which can get fairly brutal.

The film is well directed and written, and had pretty good subtitles too (a welcome change). The music ranged from being
obtrusive to fitting into the scene perfectly. There is also an interesting use of a musical theme for one of the characters,
kind of like a Wagnerian lietmotif.

The movie is basically a buildup to its big finale. However, to discuss the events that end the film would be to ruin it. While
this is true for almost all films, it is especially true for this one. However, it is difficult to be more specific about the film
without revealing this ending. Sorry.

Overall, I'd recommend it. There is a lot to like and even more to respect about this film. Just be aware that the title is a
warning to both the filmgoer and the characters of the story.

Reviewed by: jun-yan
Date: 01/06/2000
Summary: Unexpected but not convincing (spoilers)

The problem is, this movie suffers from the comparison with Ringo Lam's "Full Alert" made in 97. The similarities are obvious, and ETU pales on almost every category. It's not to say ETU is not in itself above average and intriguing, but the characters, emotions, style, complexity, depth, moral ambiguity and sincerity all lose to the superier "Full Alert." The most successful and rich character is Lau Ching-wan's Sam, which, once again demonstrates what a GREAT actor he is. The other characters, although all well-acted, were not terribly well-written, I'm afraid. The villains are especially weak and flat compared to FA. Here they are nothing but plot device.

What this movie succeeds in, however, is creating an intense atmosphere. There is always a touch of danger in the air. The feeling is realism is particularly thick. It is the tension and threatened disaster rather than the actual display of the explosion itself that work more effectively. Patrick Yau has established himself as one of the most promising directors in Hong Kong today. I admire his instinct and confidence.

The ending, well, yes I was a little surprised, but also disappointed. I suppose it could be realistically possible, but this one feels more than a little contrived and not too convincing. Even though it can be explained by the policemen's underestimation of their opponents, some things do not feel totally natural and smooth -- no one called backup even from cell phones; the amateur robbers suddenly have great aim; almost every cop is disabled by one or two shots, yet the two robbers just do not fall while sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. If the action sequence had somehow demonstrated the most significant reason WHY or HOW, eg. the mainland robbers are more desperate than we imagine, it might work. Even if there is plenty of reason for us and the cops to believe these robbers are inexperienced, some hints of the final outcome would be more effective. Shock for the purpose of only to shock never works very well. Unfortunately, the point of this movie -- real life is full of unexpected events -- loses its power because of the unbelievability and manipulation.

Reviewed by: Mark
Date: 12/30/1999
Summary: Bleak post-Handover HK crime film

This is one of the bleak new wave of post-Handover HK crime films which include Full Alert, Beast Cops and A True Mob Story. Like those films, the characters here are very Hong Kong, but in a Hong Kong the place sense rather than a Hong Kong the movie myth sense. The opening is dynamite. Three inept Mainland robbers botch a jewel store holdup. One of them flees into a nearby apartment building, inadvertently leading the police to the hideout of a second gang of criminals who are much more hardcore than the bumbling Chinese thieves. Serious arms fire ensues. The rest of the film follows four cops as they track the surviving members of both gangs. Simon Yam plays the hardbitten sergeant, and Lau Ching Wan plays his unorthodox lieutenant. A love triangle develops between them and key witness Mandy (Yo Yo Mung), just to provide a little light dating action between car chases, in that uniquely HK blend of whimsical romance and teeth-grinding violence.

Tonally, the film is similar to the Hollywood flick Seven, with the cops usually arriving after the villains have left. The evil gang in this film use home invasions to establish hideouts, and target the homes of single women. One crime aftermath in particular is perhaps the most disturbing thing I've seen in film, purely by the implication of the events that have transpired.

Expect the Unexpected is proof that there's still life in the Hong Kong film industry. Pacing, acting and script are all superb. The title holds the truth. You can try to expect it, but you won't. I guarantee it.