Directed by Tung-Shing Yee, starring Daniel Wu, Cecilia Cheung, Alex Fong, Anson Leung, Kar Lok Chin and Suet Lam.
Tung-Shing Yee's 'One Night in Mongkok' is a brutal examination of crime and the legal system that aims to stop it. It's darkly comic at some moments, but it's also bloody almost to the point of gratuitousness.
Lai Fu (Wu) comes from a poor village in China. When he's invited to Hong Kong to kill someone for a local gangster, he sees it as an opportunity to make some money. Once there though, he finds that the police know about his job and they, led by Officer Milo (Fong), are close on his heels. He soon meets Dan (Cheung), a girl from his village who has become a prostitute. Together, they must outwit the cops and Lai Fu must decide if the money is really worth all the trouble.
Yee's portrait is a bleak one. Here, the police are not above shady dealings, making them more similar to the criminals they try to capture than they might wish to be. Lai Fu and Dan are caught up in the world of corruption and retribution that surrounds them and, if not quite innocent, they're certainly in way over their heads.
'One Night in Mongkok' has at its heart the message that, criminal or lawman, each is as human as the other. Yee, also the writer of this piece, has his cops shooting first and asking questions later and planting drugs on suspects. Lai Fu, meanwhile, is a well-meaning kid, driven to dangerous actions by others, while Dan is also a victim of circumstance.
While the film gets its message across, it does it in a roundabout way. It could have been shorter and none of the impact lost. It's also quite a bloody film, particularly towards the end, and you wonder if it really needed that level of violence. A crime movie doesn't necessarily need a lot of blood to make its point.
'One Night in Mongkok' has some nice cinematography and some good wit, particularly with the mobile phone salesman Liu (Lam). It's rich in morality too, though its effect is slightly marred by the brutality.