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I enjoyed this movie, but let me just start this review off with the default description that the film's PR people hand out:

The time is 1998. Every living soul jumps at every chance to make quick money before the Portuguese colony ushers in a new era under the Chinese rule. For the jaded hit men, they wonder where this journey will end. Against this background of fin-de-siècle malaise come two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member trying to turn over a new leaf with his wife and newborn baby. They soon find themselves in the throes of a dilemma when two of their former associates also show up, intent on thwarting them at every cost.

Okay, now forget that description because most of it doesn't even matter. You can tell they're Chinese by the language, but other than that it really doesn't matter where it takes place. It could be taking place in Hong Kong or some other Chinese town, or even some Mexican town for that matter. And actually, it does feel more like it's taking place out in some small out-of-the-way Mexican town run by one gangsta overlord dude. There is pretty much nothing in here about China taking back control of Hong Kong, so I've no idea why that mattered enough to put it in their description.

This is a cool movie which is basically about friendship and plays like a modern-day western. When it starts off, we're all a bit confused, as there are two people hanging outside this house. One of them apparently wants to kill Wo, the guy who lives there, while the other apparently wants to protect him. Wo's wife, Jin, and their baby are the only two in the house, so the the two dudes just hang outside the house waiting for him to get home. Eventually, two more guys show up, and hang out as well. At this point, my wife and I just looked at each other, each of us sporting a confused look on our face.

Exiled Then, the Wo arrives home in his little beat-up looking vehicle. Nobody moves until he steps through the front door, and even then the bullets really don't start flying yet. Wo goes and gets his six-shooter from a drawer and starts loading bullets into it. At the same time, the other guys start taking bullets out of their gun's clip, presumably so that everybody is on even terms with six bullets. Confused? Yes. Intrigued? Absolutely. And then the bullets start flying!

Exiled After a fast-paced exciting shootout, the only injures inflicted appears to be on the house and it's inanimate contents. But rather than reloading and continuing the gun fight, everyone instead starts to help repair the house! Truly, this was the weirdest assassination plot I've ever seen. But then when they're done and gather 'round to pose for picture together, it all becomes clear... they're all old friends. The gangsta running the town, Boss Fay, ordered Wu dead because Wu attempted to assassinate him, and it just happens that the assassins he choose to do the job. Blaze and Fat, were part of Wo's old gang of buddies.

Exiled But was this a coincidence? What Boss Fay doesn't know is that it was Wu and Blaze who planned the attempt on Boss Fay's life. But when things went south, Wu took the blame to protect Blaze, and left town. But now he's back, and Boss Fay wants him dead. And this is where I get a bit confused. Returning to a town where you know you are wanted dead doesn't sound like such a smart move to begin with... but why in the world would you do it while you have a wife and newborn baby?! I understand the whole nostalgia thing, but isn't your family just a tad bit more important? What kind of selfish jerk are you?!

That's my only real gripe with the plot. If they could have thought up some reason that forced him and his family back then it would have made it a lot easier for me to get behind this guy. Anyway, so now the group of five have to figure out what they're going to do. After a good night's rest, they figure that the first thing they need to do is pull of a big job that pays a lot so that Wu's wife and child will have all the money they'll need. Problem is, Boss Fay REALLY wants Wu dead, so things get complicated.

This is an exciting movie with a lot of nice touches. It adds small bits of humor at just the right moments, and has a story that I didn't find predictable in the least. The acting by everyone was spot-on, as I found myself really believing in each of these characters. They all had their own individual personalities and didn't feel like stock characters at all. Even the minor characters were interesting, such as the policeman that is only a day away from retirement. At any rate, if you have the opportunity to see this film, I'd recommend it.

Exiled opened in theaters on August 31, 2007, and was released by Magnolia Pictures.

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