Expect the Unexpected
Director: Patrick Yau
Stars: Lau Ching-Wan, Simon Yam, Yo-Yo Mung
A group of inept Mainland criminals botch a jewelry store robbery. The cops, led by the straight-laced Ken (Yam) and the wise-cracking Sam (Lau), begin to investigate the case and quickly confuse the jewel thieves with a group of hard-ass Mainland robbers staying in the same area. Turns out the "tough" Mainlanders have a nasty habit of doing home invasions and raping the occupants for several days while planning their next robbery. Ken and Sam soon realize what the "real" robbers are up to and must stop them before more innocent people are hurt.
Expect the Unexpected is a very uneven movie. It's almost as if two movies -- a cop action/drama and a romantic character study -- have been thrown together. The romantic parts are somewhat entertaining. One funny bit has the rejected Sam "lip-synching" a conversation between Ken and Mandy (Mung), a woman they both desire. But really, they don't add anything to the film as a whole. One particular subplot, dealing with one of Ken's subordinates after he is shot by the Mainlanders, is totally unnecessary and slows the movie down. I'm all for fleshing out characters in a film (especially in the crime genre, which all too often feature "cookie-cutter" stereotypes) but not if it comes at the expense of the story. We really don't need to know about all the intimate romantic details of every character's life.
However, the parts focusing on the cops' pursuit of the Mainlanders are extremely well-done, with heaps of suspense and crackling action sequences. It was during these sequences that I found Expect the Unexpected most rewarding. I admire what Yau and other "new New Wave" film-makers are trying to do within the HK crime genre, but sometimes they should just let a good crime drama be. If Yau had decided to focus just on the crimes and not the "crimes of passion" of the cops, this might have been a great movie. It's still very good, though, and the title is quite prophetic. The ending is unexpected. I have watched dozens of movies of this type -- I was surprised and I'm sure you will be too.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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