The Heroic Trio ★★★

Don't watch the terrible, dubbed Miramaxed version that's on Netflix. In fact, don't ever watch any terrible, dubbed Miramaxed versions of any Hong Kong films. They are the worst.

It's as fun as a movie involving kidnapped babies can be. It was a collaborative effort between Ching Siu-tung, who directed the action scenes and supervised much of the production design and Johnnie To, who focused on the screenplay and shot the rest of the film. It ends up feeling more like a Ching movie than To, if only because the whole thing was a conscious attempt at making a comic book-style wuxia film, which is much more in line with Ching's aesthetic than To's.

Ching and To have apparently been friends since the late 70s, and did a lot of work in TV together in the 80s. I wrote about Ching's classic SWORDSMAN 2 last year (, in relation to its predecessor, begun by the great King Hu who was then replaced with Ching by producer Tsui Hark. Another instance of the difficulties in finding authorial features in Hong Kong films, at least in the ones Tsui produced in the 80s and early 90s.

To, of course, behaved much the same way in his role as a producer on founding Milkyway Image, taking several films away from the directors who started them and more or less directing them himself (THE LONGEST NITE, for example).

(Much of the information here comes from Stephen Teo's book on Johnnie To, the only extended study of To's films in English that I know and which I just finished reading. It's a good book, recommended for all To-heads).