Johnnie To's Life Without Principle is a complex film that intertwines three narrative stories revolving around a police officer, two criminals and a bank employee. Cheung Jin-Fong is a police detective whose wife is dead set on investing in a new condominium, even though he's not so sure about the investment. Teresa, a bank employee, is feeling the pressure from her boss to boost her sales of investment products, spending most of her day attempting to sell high risk financial portfolios to her clients. Then there is Panther and Lung, two common criminals who lose a large sum of money in a loan sharking scheme, whom must find the money or face the wrath of the triad. Through Life Without Principle these three unique stories interact in different and sometimes unexpected ways using the backdrop of the economic crisis in Greece, which threatens to lead to a similar crisis in Hong Kong. This is a film that beautifully captures the growing complexities of the world economy which links all people together. Modern technology has created even larger stakes, with the ability to a create a ripple effect that is shown through all walks of life. From the very beginning of Life without Principle money is presented as this force which drives almost every character and decision. The film has a rather cynical viewpoint arguing that police officers, gangsters, or standard everyday citizens are all the same, controlled by their greed for money. While there is no denying that To's film is well thought out and an interesting examination on how everyone is linked together through money and technology, the film never feels all that compelling. The narrative threads all serve a purpose but the large cast of characters never are given enough time on screen to get the viewer truly invested in their various plights. While Life Without Principle didn't affect me much on an emotional level its hard to deny the strength of the social commentary.
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