Lifeline (1997)

May 14, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Directors: Johnnie To Kei-Fung
Patrick Yau Tat-Chi
Action Director: Yuen Bun
Script: Yau Nai-Hoi
Producer: Mona Fong

Lau Ching-Wan
Alex Fong Chung-Sun
Carman Lee Yeuk-Tung
Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling
Raymond Wong Ho-Yin
Lam Suet

Cantonese: Sap Maan Feng Gap
Mandarin: Shi2 Wan4 Huo3 Ji2
Country: Hong Kong

Language: Cantonese
Running Time: 112 min



lifeline1“Lifeline is a film with multiple-personality disorder : the first two-thirds feel like TV-soap opera, but the last half hour is pure poetry. Stick with it: it’s worth sitting through an hour of lives and loves of Hong Kong firefighters to get to the final 30 minutes of glorious spectacle….I have never been seen such intoxicatingly beautiful images of pure energy like this in film. The fire has a visceral, animated presence that is as alluring, as charismatic and as terrifying as even the most vividly characterized film villain.”

–Shelly Kracier, Hong Kong Cinema

“This is a film of unadulterated heroism and self realization. Ideological criticism becomes frail next to this kind of outright propaganda. Some critics try to find phallic symbolisms in the film but it’s more practical to analyze the filming techniques and visual effects. One point needs to be made: increase in temperature would blur vision, so the use of slow motion in fire scenes is clever and appropriate, but how is it distinguished from the slow motion used to enhance the scenes away from the fire? The director is not persuasive enough, which means he didn’t notices. – Long Tin ”

–Long Tin, Hong Kong Film Critics Society

lifeline1“Glory — larger-than-life glory — is Johnnie To’s specialty and what we need the most. I believe that romantic heros never die, it’s only that in these times, the heroism must be drawn from everyday life. We are astonished not only by the grandeur of the film’s characters but also by that of its director and crew, who were bold enough to take on such a daunting challenge. Johnnie To has never forsaken his roots in martial arts films, and, naturally, saves the last blow for that flying hammer. This is his belief.”

–Athena Tsui, Hong Kong Film Critics Society

“A solid piece of filmmaking by Director Johnnie To which follows a firefighting unit considered a jinxed hardluck outfit by the rest of the Department. Lau Ching-wan is Boss, a hardened veteran who does not share the Department’s view that a fireman should let victims burn if the odds are against rescue. He is at odds with his new commander (Alex Fong Chung-sun), a “By-The-Book” officer and involved with a doctor (Carmen Lee), who is distraught over a recent break-up. Unlike BACKDRAFT, which was an uneven, melodramatic film depending more on fire effects than story, LIFELINE follows the unit’s personal lives and compels the viewers to be involved with their stories. Ruby Wong Chui-mei is particularly good as a female firefighter at odds with her husband over her career and starting a family. Not to say that there isn’t startling fire effects: The fire in the factory makes one imagine what Hell these firefighters put themselves through to save lives. The “escape” sequence is so tight and tense, it puts DAYLIGHT to shame. This is an excellent film and highly recommended.”

—Ron, Hong Kong Movie Database

*Scenes from Lifeline
© Cosmopolitan Film Productions

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