Expect the Unexpected (1998)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Patrick Yau Tat-Chi]
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling, Hui Siu-Hung, Wong Hiu Yin, Yo Yo Mung

Patrick Yau’s second movie of 1998 (following The Longest Nite) is on the surface a police procedural. But under that guise is another essay in Milkyway pictures’ continuing experiment on changing fate. This time the experiment reaches perhaps its apex as the filmmakers challenge every last convention of the genre, subverting each of our expectations.

When a group of desperate mainlanders botch a jewelry store robbery the police arrive and make quick work of the situation. But when the police search nearby buildings for the bumpkin robbers’ hideout, they uncover another group of burglars. Heavily trained and armed, this group lays into the police, who sustain heavy damages. A crack investigative unit is called onto the scene. Led by suave, straight-laced Simon Yam and Lau Ching Wan, playing a cop who likes to bend the rules, they track the psychotic burglars.

Filmed in monsoon-like rains, Patrick Yau’s movie is beautiful to look at, with an invigorating score. The actors attack their parts with subtle energy, and, with a script that twists its every turn, they manage to create a group of cops that is extremely likeable; for once, these are people you’d actually like to be friends with. Personally, I found myself almost wanting to be part of their group. This is another well-played Milkyway production focusing on great writing and acting rather than the sheer enthusiasm of the Hong Kong New Wave. It is doubly intriguing for its part in Milkyway’s continuing thematic expression of fate vs. chance.

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