UK-China Film Collab and Trinity CineAsia are joining forces with the Prince Charles Cinema in London to host The Heroic Mission: Johnnie To Retrospective. Running from July 7 to 14, fans will have a rare chance to see three of the most influential cinema made in Hong Kong from a master of the game on the big screen.


Life Without Principle (2011) – Thursday 7 July, 6.00pm
Starring Lau Ching Wan (Mad Detective, Call of Heroes), Richie Jen (The Sniper, Exiled)

Running on Karma (2003) – Tuesday 12 July, 6.30pm
Starring Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs), Cecilia Cheung (Legendary Amazons, The Promise)

Breaking News (2004) – Thursday 14 July, 8.30pm
Starring Richie Jen, Kelly Chen (An Empress and the Warriors, Infernal Affairs), Nick Cheung (Beast Stalker, Connected)

Curated by MA Film Curating student, Birbeck University’s own Riley Wong, the title of the series takes after two of To’s films, The Heroic Trio (1992) and The Mission (1998), with the featured selections aimed at providing “a wider context of the societal changes in Hong Kong in recent decades, and inspiring inspire a new scope for ideas and discussion.”

In this case, the programme – all three selections hailing from To’s Milkyway Image banner – focus on a story of heroism, “angling at different characters in daily life and portraying their inner struggles and conflicts between desire and making choices.” Per the announcement, it’s a speciality of To’s which stems from part of his philosophy, with a quote that reads ‘I can see two to three faces of a person.’

The programme details have more below. Check it out and then get over to the website and get your tickets if you’re in the area!

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To furthers his discussion on humanity and our ‘principles’ in Life Without Principle. Those ‘principles’ could refer to honesty, kindness and loyalty. To discovers how the principles can be distorted in this crazy capitalist city. The story revolves around three characters: an ordinary bank teller forced to sell high risk securities to her customers, a small-time thug who delves into the futures index hoping for easy money, and a police inspector who is suddenly desperate for money. Three characters and three separate stories that never meet in the film but their fates

After revealing the multiple faces of humanity, To still believes in kindness. The first half of Running on Karma reveals To’s understanding of ‘karma’ which is fated and unshakeable. When Lee Fung-yee finds out she has to die because of her past life as a Japanese soldier killing civilians, she is confused and wonders why this happened to her even though she was so kind and never had done anything wrong. To denotes his attitude and opinion on how we should live with our fated Karma. Lee Fung-yee decides to make her death more meaningful. Running of Karma has been identified as one of the most significant and original films of To, in collaboration with
his life-long colleague Wai Kar Fai.

In Breaking News, To manifests the missions of the police and the villain. Demonstrating the complicity of the police organisation, To challenges the purposes behind the mission of the police, and whether it is only the responsibility to make citizens safe. Inspector Rebecca decides to redeem the police credibility and its collective reputation by directing a ‘show’ in an operation and utilising the power of media to create a perfect image of heroism. Detective Cheung is always out of command and deviates from the operation, which indicates his self-desire and paranoia of catching criminals. On the other hand, To has shown the tenderness and human side of the fierce villains but does not beautify or justify their brutal violence. The killer in the film just wants to go home and the leader of the thieves dreams of setting up his own small business after their job. There is hope behind their mission.

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