This is all the more appropriate as the Spaghetti Westerns of the 60’s often borrowed from Asian themes - most notably the Samurai films of the 50’s-60’s. The underlying connection between these different genres would be the convictions held by all the heroes in the films - something the Hong Kong crime genre is very familiar with.
The film is set within Macau of 1998, a few days before its transfer back to China. A forner mobster by the name of Wo has relocated to Macau with his wife and newborn baby. Before they have even moved into their new Spanish flavored villa trouble is brewing all around. Two different groups of hitmen, Blaze (Anthony Wong) and Fat (Suet Lam) on one side and Tai (Francis Ng) and Cat (Roy Cheung) on the other side, take turns knocking on Wo’s front door. Each time Wo’s wife opens the door and tells the men that they have the wrong house and look somewhere else. The hitmen are aware that they have the right address and wait patiently for Wo outside… all within eyesight of each other. Showdown at the Macau coral indeed!
Complicating matters even more would be that Wo and the hitmen have been lifelong friends. It just so happened that Wo and Tai attempted to assassinate their Hong Kong crime boss (Fay) with Wo taking the blame and fleeing to Macau. Now Tai has arrived in Macau to defend his friend, as Blaze and Fat await for Wo’s arrival on orders from their boss Fay. When Wo does finally arrive guns are quickly drawn and within the tiny confines of his small apartment all hell breaks loose.
The mayhem ends from the cries of Wo’s baby and eventually the hitmen gather together for an impromptu reunion over dinner and alcohol. The men reminiscence about their past and soon decide to work together again. The group decides to undertake one last lucrative mission which could reap them millions or end with their deaths.
From there the movie flows along confidently veering between the men having fun together and getting in plenty of gunfights. A few unexpected twists turns up the suspense factor exponentially, while scattered comedic moments worked well to reinforce the strong bond between these men. The soundtrack also is one of the better scores I have had the pleasure to hear in a film, alternating between Spanish flavored sounds and intense rock music. Thankfully none of the violins heard in the recent art house Hong Kong flicks or the all to common Infernal Affairs type of contemporary music existed in Exiled. The twists and turns, particularly in the underground hospital and Buddha mountain were unexpected and thrilling to the core. The gun battles were well orchestrated often using slow motion, with a kick of a can into the air working as a timer to the action. The familiar Hong Kong actors featured in “Exiled” were all consistently good, seeming to have more fun with their roles as the minutes passed by.
While there are plenty of gunfights to entertain the action film aficionados, the real star of the film for me would have been the unique cinematic style set within “Exiled”. Yes its unrealistic or naive to believe criminals would unload bullets to equalize a gun battle or leave millions behind to protect a partner in trouble but that’s the mystique or lore of such films from the past and “Exiled” shows how compelling those ideas can be today.