The Mission (1999 film)

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The Mission
TheMission1999.jpg
Directed by Johnnie To
Produced by Johnnie To
Written by Yau Nai-hoi
Milkyway Creative Team
Starring Anthony Wong
Francis Ng
Jackie Lui
Roy Cheung
Lam Suet
Simon Yam
Music by Chung Chi-wing
Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung
Edited by Chan Chi-wai
Production
company
Distributed by International Films Enterprise Ltd.
Release date
  • 19 November 1999 (1999-11-19)
Running time
84 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$4,618,846

The Mission (Chinese: 鎗火, lit. The Gunfire) is a 1999 Hong Kong crime film produced and directed Johnnie To, and starring Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Jackie Lui, Lam Suet, and Simon Yam.[1]

Plot[edit]

The triad boss Lung survives an assassination attempt in a restaurant, with one of his men being killed during the hit. The restaurant is owned by "Fat Cheung", an underboss of Lung's triad.

For his protection he hires a team of five men: Curtis normally works as a hairdresser and is the most experienced of the group, the loner James, night club owner Roy and his younger gang collague Shin and Mike, a former pimp.

An initial assassination attempt on Lung fails when a sniper attacks the cars with Lung and his bodyguards from the rooftop of a high-rise. Lung gets shot, but a bullet-proof vest prevents further damage. The men manage to fight off the attack and Curtis decides to leave in the cars with Lung, James, Mike and Shin even though Roy hasn't returned (he left the scene to pursue a second attacker). Roy returns angrily in a taxi to Lung's house and beats up Curtis (who doesn't oppose). The next day Curtis makes amends by killing a criminal who harassed Roy's night club.

The five bodyguards are fighting off two additional asssassination attempts and trail a surviving hitman to the hideout of the attackers. After a gunfight they manage to capture one of the assassins alive. It becomes evident that the hits were contracted by Fat Cheung and Lung sends his henchmen Frank to kill him. The bodyguards kill the captured hitman and the five men celebrate the end of their mission in a restaurant.

Frank hands out five envelopes with the pay to Curtis and tells him that he learnt about an affair between Shin and the wife of Lung. He requests that Shin disappears and Curtis tells him that he'll take care of it. Curtis drives to James, asks him for a gun and arranges a meeting with Shin in the evening. James warns Roy and since he's responsible for Shin as his boss, he confronts him with the allegation. Shin confesses having been seduced by Mrs. Lung. Roy tells Curtis that he can't allow for Shin being killed. They form the plan to have Shin escape in a boat to Taiwan but eventually discard the plan since Frank would than pursue Roy instead.

In the evening the five men meet in an otherwise empty restaurant to sort out the situation. James leaves to ask Lung for clemency and to spare Shin's life. When he arrives at Lung's house he witnesses a henchmen of Lung killing the unfaithful Mrs. Lung. James realises the hopelessness of his attempt and returns to the restaurant where it comes to a mexican standoff between the men. Curtis shoots Shin, while Roy empties his magazine without aiming at Curtis. When the men leave the restaurant, Curtis throws a blank towards James; the death of Shin (who's escaping through the backdoor) was staged for Lung.

Reception[edit]

The Mission was well received. In a 2004 interview with director Johnnie To for the website GreenCine, Sean Axmaker states that The Mission is "the best crime film to come from Hong Kong in years. It's austere and still, beautifully composed and tense, and the characters are professional and efficient, positioning themselves for efficiency and communicating and interacting silently while on the job."[2] Similarly, an overview of To's body of work that precedes an interview for the magazine Cineaste refers to the film as "To's masterpiece,"[3] "a brilliantly conceived, shot, and edited gangster film."[4]

In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films.[5] The Mission was listed at 86th place on this list.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations
Ceremony Category Recipient Outcome
37th Golden Horse Awards Best Feature Film The Mission Nominated
Best Director Johnnie To Won
Best Actor Francis Ng Won
Best Supporting Actor Lam Suet Nominated
19th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film The Mission Nominated
Best Director Johnnie To Won
Best Supporting Actor Lam Suet Nominated
Best Action Choreography Cheng Ka-sang Nominated
Best Film Editing Chan Chi-wai Nominated
Best Original Film Score Chung Chi-wing Nominated
6th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best Film The Mission Won
Best Director Johnnie To Won
5th Golden Bauhinia Awards Best Film The Mission Won
Best Director Johnnie To Won
Best Supporting Actor Roy Cheung Won
Best Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung Won
Top Ten Chinese-language Film The Mission Won
HKSAR 10th Anniversary Film Awards Best Film The Mission Nominated
Best Director Johnnie To Won
1st Chinese Film Media Awards Best Screenplay Yau Nai-hoi Won

References[edit]

External links[edit]