The Mission (1999), Dir. Johnny To

Ok, so those who know me will not be suprised that the first film in the Liang Shan Lounge is Johnny To’s The Mission.  As with most films that will wind up here, I like the film…..ok, I love the film.  I love it because it is not like other triad films.  Sure, you have hitmen hired to do a job for a gangster, some gunplay, and somebody who messes it up for everyone else.  But the film is very…..quiet.  It’s great because it assumes you’ve seen so many triad films, and it’s going to show you something different, or at least not show you what you are expecting.

I showed this film to my class, and after seeing A Better Tomorrow and Infernal Affairs, I guess they were expecting something super-spectacular.  About 20 minutes into the film, I thought they were going to riot.  You see, I told them that The Mission is probably one of my favorite Hong Kong films ever.  As I watched it with them, for a moment I wondered if I had unduly persuaded myself that this was one of my favorite films ever.  Then it happened.  That scene were Anthony Wong pays a visit to a low-life whose bothering Francis Ng so much he can’t do his bodyguarding duties correctly.  THAT is when I was like, oh yeah, this is why I like the film.  You just don’t see it coming, and if you blink, you might miss it when it happens.  Then my class understood why I liked the film so much.  Yeah, I need a hairdresser like Wong.

The Mission probably initiated my love affair with To films; I like his aesthetic.  I don’t know what Simon Yam and Suet Lam have on him, because they’ve been in practically every To film I’ve seen, but that’s ok.  I love the Mission, right down to its cheesy theme music!

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