Bullets Over Summer (1999)

May 29, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Wilson Yip]

Color 95 min

The best reasons to watch this film are Francis Ng and Louis Koo, whose partnership as undercover cops is simply beautiful. The rest of the movie is a mixed bag. Bullets Over Summer begins as a sharp comedy, drawing its humor from the richly complex partnership between intense, stressed out Francis and Louis’ perpetually horny slacker. But things get progressively more serious as the show goes on, and the ending is, unbelievably, tragic.

When a thoroughly vicious burglar slaughters a wedding party on the way out of a bank robbery, cops Mike (Francis Ng) and Brian (Louis Koo), the oddest couple on the police force, go on a stakeout waiting for the burglar to show up at the local arms dealers apartment. Mike and Brian pick an apartment across the way, inhabited by an old grandmother whose imagination has an equal hold on her life with reality. One by one the weirdos of the area, the misfits and the disenfranchised, make their way into Brian and Mike’s world, and as the summer wears on they grow to be a part of this community.

The film is well-made and absorbing. The only problem is that about twenty minutes from the end the film jettisons its sweetness and its wonderful sense of humor in favor of some nasty violence. Plus a lot of characters’ reactions at the end of the film are understated to the point of not actually being there. We don’t really ever see the apartment-dwellers’ reactions to the violence that erupts–actually, we don’t even see main-character Brian’s reaction. It’s strange that such a carefully-made movie ends so haphazardly.

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