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The Mission (1999) – English Review


A powerful man needs bodyguards after someone tried to kill him. He hires a small group of bodyguards to look after him. But not all of the bodyguards like each other, but they try to make the best out of the situation.

The Mission is in a sense the predecessor to Exiled, but you can also say that Exiled is the remake of The Mission. It has many of the same actors and a very similar story. Here we find Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Francis Ng, Roy Cheung, Lam Suet, and Simon Yam in the lead roles. What a wonderful group of actors!

The shootout in the mall is the highlight for me. In this scene, you recognize the style of Johnnie To. It’s so beautiful that I have no words. I just love how he slows the scene down, and it feels like time stands still. It’s like playing chess, and they are waiting for the next move.

The first time I saw The Mission, I was a little disappointed. The reason for that was that I saw Exiled before The Mission, which feels more expensive and it has bigger action scenes.

I like the playful style of The Mission. Everything is on a smaller scale, but that doesn’t mean it’s a worse movie than Exiled. The Mission has a rhythm and style that I’ve rarely experienced in action movies. Johnnie To is or was possibly the best living action director who knows how to film shootouts and to come up with different ideas. He’s the master of this style. Even John Woo must take a backseat when Johnnie To is in the zone!

I didn’t like the score in The Mission the first time I saw it. Then I liked it the second time I saw the movie. But then when I watched the movie for the third time, I got tired of the strange score. It’s strange how you can change your mind when you watch a movie again for the third time. The score can remind me of something you hear on a cruise ship. It’s annoying, and the score is too cheerful in the long run.

What I appreciate, and what sets The Mission apart from other movies in the same genre, is that there’s very little dialogue in the movie. In action movies, the characters tend to scream and shout when there are shootouts, or they talk a lot of nonsense. The Mission almost feels like a silent movie at times, which was new to me in this genre. It’s relaxing, and it makes the shootouts more intense. I love the scene when the central characters are playing football with a paper ball while waiting in an office. So simple, so relaxing.

The Mission is a movie with almost no story, but it offers a lot of action and exciting scenes. Exiled is the more expensive and stylish movie of these two. Now I can’t wait to see Exiled again, it’s been many years since I last saw the movie.

The Mission is a simple action movie that few action movies can follow. The story is thin, but damn it’s so entertaining and it feels like this is a man’s world! This is what you call action art. Johnnie To is a master when he can make a shorter movie with very little substance. You sit there and enjoy the atmosphere and the camerawork. It’s world-class!

Rating: 8/10

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