After a failed assassination attempt on his life, crime boss Lung, instructs his lead henchman and brother Frank to find the man responsible for this sinister plot. Frank goes out and hires a group of hired guns, each with their own area of expertise. Some of these men Lung has worked with in the past, some are new, but they all work together to protect Lung from this mysterious threat. Johnnie To's The Mission is a stylistic action film that is a strong example of the auteur's kinetic style used in crafting many of his crime thrillers. To's action scenes are truly unique, with great use of composition and camerawork that make the scenes thrilling but also like nothing many have seen before. The Mission shows firsthand that a film with a simple story can still be riveting, reminding viewers that cinema is a visual medium. Make no mistake, The Mission is not a action-extravaganza but a film that understands that the quiet sometimes comedic scenes only make the action scenes more vibrant and impressive. Throughout The Mission the various assassination attempts are routinely unexpected, giving this entire film a great sense of tension from start to finish. This is a filmmaker enamored by this type of gangster lifestyle and The Mission spends time capturing this ragtag group of men with depth, showing their more playful side while constantly reminding the viewer the little effect extreme violence has on these mens' souls. I wouldn't go as far as to say The Mission is one of Johnnie To's best films but it's another solid kinetic crime thriller from his canon.
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