Hong Kong director Johnnie To has been at it since the early 1980s but came into his own only in the mid-'90s, capturing the island's anxiety and gloom as it wrestled with the Chinese takeover and a burgeoning Mafia. This 1999 gangster drama is pretty familiar, but its melancholy tale of romance and redemption strikes a responsive chord in To. A surly ex-con (Lau Ching-wan) takes up residence at a hotel and falls for its proprietor (Ruby Wong), a widow with a young son, while the city's cabdrivers and his old gang seem to be conspiring with a corrupt cop to send him back to jail. To contrasts the noisy, chaotic streets with the calm, orderly hotel, deftly modulating the two and deepening the ex-con's dilemma over the excitement of his past and the responsibilities of love. The film is set in Macao, a former Portuguese colony on the southern coast of China known as the gambling den of east Asia, and To exploits the moodiness of its picturesque locales, shifting between sun-dappled alleys and neon-lit streets.