Exiled ★★★½

My first To, so some expected growing pains I assume. Starts where most movies might end—a set of close friends must finally turn on each other (context unknown and better for it)—and then turns that premise on itself into a fascinating rumination of loyalty and brotherhood. However, the gambit runs short as it turns back into a men on the run...and then has a moment to turn reallyinteresting as one character exits the drama, then becomes something of an odd surreal comedy before turning back to expected places...it kind of lost me in places to be honest. But narrative aside, To is delightful—reminds me of Nicholas Ray in the way that spaces exist completely on their own universe (the brightness of Wo's neighborhood with the absolute darkness of his new apartment). The gun fights are terrific, and the set ups even more exciting (Leone reference is necessary). His humor works for me as well—the main guy putting his sunglasses on during the final scene is a great touch, as well as the military sharpshooter banter. Some issues related to Hong Kong went sort of past me; it's set in Macao right before the handover (only made clear to me by Wikipedia), and certainly is working through issues of where the country is going, though I'm curious how that relates to the issues facing the state in 2005. A subject for more exploration in the future.