The Odd One Dies 1997 ★★★

I had read that the films made by other directors under Johnnie To's Milkyway production company can still be considered to be of Johnnie To's "house style" *, so I am considering this to be a Johnnie To film. Stylistically though, I found something that felt more akin to David Lynch's Twin Peaks than to any of To's other works (that I have seen - still very few). The music plays a big part in that, from the cool cheesy jazz that signals macho men being macho, to the overly sentimental music played at overly sentimental moments that then take on real emotion. The Odd One Dies also mixes its tones, combining moments of action and violence (in Twin Peaks, suspense/almost horror) with madcap humor and romance.

That said, I enjoyed the weirdness of The Odd One Dies. Even on this poor DVD transfer, it was a pretty, stylish film. The main characters, once you get comfortable with them, are very likable. And the story is pretty good and interesting. Enjoyable! I don't know that I would really recommend this though, except for Johnnie To/HK cinema completists. It was good, but there are so many other movies in this world to watch...

* "From 1996, To, as Milkyway’s impresario, would collaborate with several directors, as well as screenwriter Yau Nai-hoi and subsequently the so-called “Milkyway Creative Team,” a constellation of writers which reportedly changes from film to film. Here, the HK conception of the producer further complicates the Western notion of auteurism: while more than half of the Milkyway films were produced but not directed by To, they nevertheless represent his ‘house style’; furthermore, the Cantonese word for producer actually translates as something akin to ‘writer-director’, so we may assume To has stewarded all the films. While it is true that the functions of the ‘producer’ in HK are more fluid than they are in the West, To earned a reputation for lording over his underlings, perhaps just as Tsui Hark, and became known in some circles as a controlling megalomaniac. For example, after To expressed dissatisfaction with the “immaturity” of director Patrick Yau, he demoted Yau to television duties. That To himself retreated to TVB after the failure of The Enigmatic Case seems to be one irony that got lost somewhere along the way."

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