Plot: Frank Costello arrives in Macau after a team of three hitmen wipes out his daughter, her husband, and their two sons. The daughter miraculously survives and from her hospital bed demands that her father avenge her family. Costello, an ordinary French chef nowadays with own restaurant in Paris, was a hitman himself in the past. After a short trip wandering around Macau, Costello is quickly able to recruit the help of another hitman trio - Kwai, Chu and Lok. Offered all his money and a restaurant in Paris, the three oblige.
Budget: €11.5 million
Vengeance continues the professional killers theme started by Johnnie To in his films - The Mission and Exiled reuniting on the movie set already known composition of Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Cheung Siu-Fai, Lam Suet and Lam Ka-Tung.
Vengeance is a French and Hong Kong co-production between Hong Kong film distributor Media Asia, French distributor ARP Sélection, and Milkyway Image, the independent production company founded by director Johnnie To and screenwriter Wai Ka-Fai.
The film's dialogue is in French, English and Cantonese dialect.
The movie has its premiere at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival there it competed for the prestigious Palme D'Or. In Asia the film premiered as an 'opening film' at the 2009 Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival. In North America, the film received a 'Special Presentations' premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.
« As a Western introduction to Johnnie To, “Vengeance” shows off the elements that made the man’s Hong Kong work must-sees and helped create his legion of fans. It’s nowhere his best film, which is saying something because it’s a pretty damn good movie by itself.»
«The highly-anticipated Vengeance features familiar Johnnie To themes presented with a fine polish, but neither star Johnny Hallyday nor the script by Wai Ka-Fai make much of an impression. Lower expectations accordingly.»
«Hallyday's craggy charisma stands out yet never overpowers his Chinese co-stars, with whom he blends effortlessly. To's widescreen mise-en-scene also merits top billing, as the helmer manipulates light, image and sound -- at one point even orchestrating a gory shootout by selective moonlight -- to bravura effect.»
«As always, the sensuality of To’s visual style and soundscapes and the choreography of the film’s bullet ballet provide reasons to watch, but the contrived plot, some wooden English dialogue and Hallyday’s stilted perfomance derail proceedings well before the final showdown.»
«With atmospheric locations in Hong Kong and Macau and To's signature set pieces of choreographed gunplay all accomplished with a bemused wink to his audience, "Vengeance" can penetrate just about any market in the world. Popcorn and art certainly can co-exist as this movie amply demonstrates.»
«To call the film cartoon-like would be to do a grave disservice to the majority of comic strips. ... It also looks quite good in a trite, glossy and bombastic kind of way, and there are even a number of funny moments that were actually intended as such. Or so one can only hope. »
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