After a decade of mediocre blockbusters, Pou-Soi Cheang returns with a vengeance. Limbo is a gritty police thriller, a sprawling update of the film noir genre that thrills from start to finish. The stark black and white cinematography and the incredible visual density are the star of the show here, aided by Kenji Kawai's moody soundtrack. The plot is intriguing too, the performances are on point and the pacing is perfect. I had already given up on Cheang, but with Limbo he shows that he still has it in him. A truly magnificent genre flick.
Cheang flexes his directorial muscles, offering great visuals, an impressive soundtrack and an interesting story that differentiates plenty from standard Hong Kong fare.
Visually beautiful, strong use of sound and an unconventionally ruthless story. Cheang is a real talent and proves himself again after fabulous films like New Blood and Dog Bite Dog.
The good stuff
Accident is a very good film. Not really excelling in anything particular, but strong and stylish in every department, forming a very solid and tight whole.
Hyn Huet Ching Nin is a good place to start if you're interested in watching a Hong Kong horror flick. Maybe it's not really all that representative, but that's what makes it easier to digest.
Pou-Soi Cheang is one of the better genre film directors currently residing in Hong Kong. With highlights like Shamo, Yi Ngoi (Accident) and Gau Ngao Gau (Dog Bite Dog) the man has been establishing himself as a driving force behind the international recognition of Hong Kong cinema. Ai Zuozhan (Love Battlefield) is a slightly older Cheang that bears all the potential, but ever so slightly fails in its execution.
Ai Zuozhan would've made a pretty good Milkyway (Johnnie To's production house) film I think. The desaturated visuals are classy, the story is a bit grittier than usual and holds a few solid surprises and there's enough police work going on to make it a thematic peer to a slew of other Milkyway productions. It's not really an action flick, rather a tense and dark thriller mixed with a dash of romance.
The problem is that Pou-Soi Cheang has a thing for melodrama. In more recent film he's learned to balance it out a bit more, but here he crosses the line of the acceptable a few times too often. The finale for example is an exhilarating 20 minute climax, only to be followed by a mushy and unnecessary scene that takes the bite out of the ending. Cheang always compensates with style and tension, but in the end it makes the film just a tad too uneven. It's definitely worth a watch though, just brace yourself for a few overly emotional scenes that really don't belong.
Worthy but flawed
Third entry in the Monkey King franchise. There's still way too much shoddy CG, the acting is mediocre and the fact that it found inspiration in Wonder Woman doesn't do it any favors either. But at least there are bits that are acceptable, which is a step up from previous entries.