A Hero Never Dies | Chicago Reader

A Hero Never Dies

Hong Kong director Johnnie To takes male bonding to its bloody and absurdist extreme in this 1998 gangster-revenge drama. Leon Lai and Lau Ching-wan play two rival Bangkok hit men, each with a slavishly devoted girlfriend and a grudging respect for his competition. Much of the film amounts to a series of elaborately staged pissing contests, until the two rivals are cruelly betrayed by mob bosses and join forces to wipe out their enemies. To focuses on the villains' sadism—what Lai and his lover endure is so bizarre it's almost camp—and his stilted mise-en-scene manages to suggest menace lurking everywhere. The sound track features numerous mood-evoking variations on the 60s Japanese pop tune “Sukiyaki,” which unfortunately prove more shaded than the film's characters.

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