Ten weeks since the start of the journey, I now discover a pattern of Hong Kong films where my parents used to watch – nostalgia towards a world that no longer exists. I still remember the ancient China in wuxia films like Come Drink with Me and The One-Armed Swordsman where the main characters fight for their beliefs. Unlike many of the Western societies that are guided by religion, Chinese people live with a belief in the philosophy of Confucius. The central culture passed on to future generations in the Chinese society were dignity and honour, which were the most important aspects of life even though they may cost one’s life to maintain his loyalty to his beliefs or keep a promise to his friends.
Another core concept conveyed in this film is the enforcement of justice. Shrimp head and small b were both disappointed in the dark world where the old virtues were not appreciated anymore. “I believe in justice, but nobody believes me,” says Inspector Li. The rigid bureaucracy, the broken legal system, and the fact that bad people can get away without punishment woken up the two characters’ cynical selves. The two persons against the world, one tried to get rid of the life of being chased after and pay his debt of hurting Jenny, and the other aimed at revenging for his dead colleague and fought for his concept of social justice.
The ending for them being a tragedy, yet the process of fighting for beliefs was heroic, and the brotherhood was touching. Maybe shrimp head was right: “The world has changed. We are not suitable in this world. We are too nostalgic.”
Speaking of the brotherhood, I highly appraise the director and the actors’ attention to details, making the characters vivid and understandable. Chow Yun-Fat was not nominated for Oscar for no reason; his facial expressions, even a small move of his eyes and eyebrows, carried a flood of underlying emotions. Ah Jong is not just a cold-blooded assassin; he is a human with compassion towards the innocent. He would risk his own life to send the injured girl to a hospital and wait until she returns conscious. The pleasant smile on Ah Jong’s face when he saw the girl’s fingers moved was just appropriate. He is also humanized by expressing his mixed feeling towards Brother Sei who betrayed him. Sitting face to face in Ah Jong’s place, the two actors created the serious atmosphere even without intense plots. Ah Jong’s anger and frustration, mixed with reminiscence of the old time, were all in the actor’s eyes.