The Mission (1999)
Johnnie To, Hong Kong
In case the title of this website wasn't obvious enough, I'm a huge Johnnie To fan. And if I had to choose one film as the quintessential Johnnie To film, it would have to be The Mission. All the elements that everyone's come to expect and admire from a Johnnie To film is clearly defined in this unique movie about a group of badass bodyguards. That shootout scene at the mall? The scene where everyone puts down their guns and kicks a piece of paper around for a full minute? The campy, but somehow infectiously catchy monotone theme music? Or how about any of the other shootout scenes in the movie? If you're a fan of this movie, I'm sure you're nodding in agreement as you read this. The Mission feels so minimalistic on the surface - with little dialogue and fairly straightforward plot lines - but like all of To's films of this nature, is so tightly designed that every scene carries a ton of weight on so many levels. From a stylistic standpoint, there's no other way to define The Mission except to say that it feels like a Johnnie To film. Even though I singled out a few scenes, the movie as a whole functions so perfectly that you could literally scroll to any point in the movie and just be content with what you're watching. For me, anyways. And to close, just let me say that it would be a true gift to the world if Johnnie To worked with Francis Ng more often.