(1997) dir. Patrick Yau
After having read a little article on Johnny To in Giant Robot magazine, I decided to check out some more of the films that he had worked on. I had seen Fulltime Killer (2001) last year, a film that he had directed, and while perusing the magazine’s list of interesting films that he had either produced or directed, the list of films that he had worked on as a producer looked more interesting than the ones that he had directed. This is not unlike Tsui Hark, my favorite Hong Kong film icon/director/producer, whose own directoral work isn’t always as strong as the other films that he has had involvement in.
I have really liked Takeshi Kaneshiro, the male lead in this film, since I first saw him in Wong Kar-Wai’s Fallen Angels (1995). The Odd One Dies turned out to be quite a cool, fun, and stylish romantic comedy/drama, draped on top of an odd story about a down-on-his-luck gambler (Kaneshiro) who takes a job as a hitman to square himself with the mob, but ends up subcontracting the job to a strange girl, Carman Lee, with whom he eventually falls in love.
The film has a cool look to it as well as a somewhat off-kilter narrative, perhaps somewhat influenced by Wong Kar-wai, but perhaps not. I also found it very funny in parts and all in all, very enjoyable. The scene where Takeshi Kaneshiro is running from some people and tries to escape in an elevator but the pursuer keeps pushing the button so that he can’t get away is totally hilarious. Kaneshiro keeps jumping out and throwing kicks and punches to try to scare the guy back before he jumps into the elevator again, but the guy persistantly presses the elevator call button, popping the doors back open. It’s very slapstick and overt.