Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Eye In the Sky

I miss Hong Kong cinema. In the 1990s my viewing schedule was awash with people like Wong Kar Wai, John Woo, Johnny To and even heavy doses of early Jackie Chan and his cohorts in martial arts films. Those Hong Kong films were usually versions of American formula (lots of Asian gangsters for example) but chock full of non-stop kinetic fervor and saturated colors drenched in rainy urban streets and neon. I loved it. 

Eye In the Sky, produced by that workaholic Johnny To and directed by Nai-Hoi Yau, reminds me of what I've missed with Hong Kong cinema over the past few years as I've watched less and less of it. It's a cops and robbers picture (as lots of HK stuff seems to be) but it rises above that simple description to become something more suspenseful and interesting. 

"Eye in the sky" is a reference to mean if you live in a city you can be watched at all times. Whether by cameras or by unobserved "strangers" on the street--in a place like Hong Kong, you can and will be monitored without your knowledge. The same goes for New York or London or Mexico City or any other large metropolis. Such is the king of observation the secret police unit in Eye In the Sky undertake as they attempt to bring down a savvy group of heist men who rob various jewelry stores. 

The unit follows two main people--a newcomer called "Piggy" and the wise veteran training her known as "Dog Head." The criminals are led by the crafty crook Chan Chong Shan (played by Tony Leung Ka Fai) who looks more like a businessman than a violent criminal (looks are often deceiving). Shan seems just as trained and resourceful as the unit that is trying to hunt them down and a suspenseful battle of wills and observation erupts between the two groups. 

Eye In the Sky is just a taut, no-frills, clever, tense story--the kind of film the Hong Kong system is able to hit right on every note. I need to start watching more of them again if they are going to be as solid as well made as Eye In the Sky is. I watched this on a jet as I flew from Dallas to Seattle and it sure made the time pass. 

1 comment:

1minutefilmreview said...

Nice review.