Johnnie To: Expect the Unexpected


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Johnnie ToHong Kong108 minutes1997PGColourCantonese

Dec 2
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Though there is not a single gun to speak of in Lifeline, this harrowing firefighter drama captures the essence of Johnnie To's cinema like few others. A varied group of firefighters (all of them supplied with melodramatic back stories) overcome their differences to forge a tight-knit team whose solidarity and professionalism is put to the supreme test when they become the only thing standing between a Hong Kong warehouse and an annihilating firestorm. While its allegorical implications could not be more clear — the film was released in 1997, the year of the handover to China — the heart of the film lies in its celebration of both personal and collective heroism during the extended, unrelievedly intense (and CGI-free) spectacle of the team battling an immense warehouse fire, "[a] half an hour of seething orange and red imagery [that] confirms that To has become a virtuoso of visceral arousal" (David Bordwell).

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