Exiled Review: It is precisely the themes of brotherhood, loyalty and honour

A friendship is formed between an ex-gangster, and two groups of hitmen. Those who want to protect him and those who were sent to kill him.

The time is 1998. The setting is Macau. Every living soul jumps at every chance to make quick money before the Portuguese colony ushers in a new era under the Chinese rule. For the jaded hit men, they wonder where this journey will end. Against this backdrop come two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member trying to turn over a new leaf with his wife and newborn baby. They soon find themselves in the throes of a dilemma when two of their former associates also show up. Intent on thwarting them at every cost.

Johnny To has returned with yet another HK gangland movie following his Election movies. And with the casting of the usual suspects in lead roles. It might, to some, become quite tiresome after a while. Not that the actors are bad in their roles. But perhaps with too much familiarity too soon. It may become difficult to tell one apart from the other, or at least character wise.

Nick Cheung (Truong Gia Huy) plays Wo, a man exiled for his misdeed against Boss Fay (Simon Yam or Nham Dat Hoa). And who has returned and settled down in Macau with is wife (Josie Ho) and infant child. Sent to finish Wo off is Anthony Wong’s Blaze, and Fat (Suet Lam). However, standing in their way is Tai (Francis Ng) and Cat (Roy Cheung), who will not let their buddy go down without a fight. In truth, all of them were buddies once, and having some sent on a mission to finish off another, this broke down their relationship, becoming a decision of forsaking personal friendship for the call of duty.

And it is precisely the themes of brotherhood, loyalty and honour that make Exiled (Tinh Nghia Sat Thu) a worthwhile watch. Despite its clichés in characters and familiar actors taking on the roles. You can probably think of no better other. Would you defy orders and give up your mission. Thus transforming from hunter to prey, or would you seek a compromise in order to save your own skin? Triad life is always black and white – if you’re not with somebody, then you’re against him. Told in two distinct acts, it’s almost like watching a Japanese “ronin” movie, given how the storyline developed. And the issues and dilemma faced by our merry men.

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