Life Without Principle

Life Without Principle


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The prolific Johnnie To turns his attentions to the banking crisis for his latest comedy/crime drama.

"Greed is human nature," says one of his characters - and To is out to expose it and punish it in all of its forms.

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A convoluted plot involving flashbacks, the Greek banking crisis, a potential gas explosion and a robbery gone bad are just some of the situations To uses to explore the tenets of Henry David Thoreau's essay Life Without Principle.

A triumvirate of stories are woven together. The first concerns a principled detective (To regular, Richie Ren), who outside of work, is in a stand-off about investing in an expensive flat with his fiancee (Myolie Wu). A second - and the backbone of the film - sees banker (Denise Ho), who is facing the axe if she doesn't sell more high-risk investment products to unsuspecting customers, get the opportunity to make some quick cash. The third and most enjoyable, sees the excellent Ching Wan Lau offering some high comedy as triad Panther, whose lack of greed and general naivety see him haplessly career through the movie, somehow always ending up on top.

There's too much going on for any of it to realise its full potential, and the script takes an age to come to the boil. Enjoyable to a point but frustratingly convoluted at times - and with ill-advised flashbacks in time - there is enough to make this worth a look but insufficient to elevate it to a place among To's best work.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2012
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To narrates the intertwining fates of three people desperate to get their hands on money fast, all set around a robbery haul.
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Director: Johnnie To

Writer: Ka-kit Cheung, Nai-Hoi Yau, Tin-Shing Yip

Starring: Ching Wan Lau, Ken Lo, Richie Ren, Stephanie Che, Denise Ho, Myolie Wu, Patricia Tang, Hoi-Pang Lo, Hang Shuen So

Year: 2011

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Hong Kong


SSFF 2011
EIFF 2012

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