Even losers are sometimes lucky.
The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD The Criterion Collection.
Three films directed by Johnnie To were released in 2004: latest news, Yesterday once again and To throw, a kind of spiritual follow-up to that of the previous year Running on Karma.
Like this movie, To throw was a more personal characteristic for the veteran filmmaker and did not achieve much commercial success. Some 17 years later, however, its appeal remains resonant.
Ten years ago, the astute Neils Matthijs considered the film for our site: âIt is an essential link in understanding the current style of the To brand. I entered with modest expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the level of spirit and pace displayed. … It’s a movie with a pretty unique feel that might not appeal to everyone. On the other hand, I’m sure most people will find something nice here. ”
Watching the film for the first time on the splendid new Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, which features a 4K digital transfer undertaken by Fortune Star in 2010, I was struck by my own ignorance. I had heard it described as “Johnnie To’s judo movie” and so, among a flurry of To detective movies that I was watching at the time, I pushed it back to the bottom of my list.
To throw is much more than a “judo film”. This particular martial art was not even popular in Hong Kong at the time. Instead, To uses judo as a single item in his storytelling toolkit, using it to brief two of the three characters in particular, and also limiting the action almost entirely to unlikely judo matches on the streets. from Hong Kong.
The story follows a former judo champion (Louis Koo), a young judo expert (Aaron Kwok) and an aspiring singer (Cherrie Ying) as they face various challenges in their lives over a short period of time. The former judo champion has retired from his life in alcohol, but is also battling another life-changing obstacle; the young judo expert spends all his time challenging other judo experts to fight him; the aspiring singer is keeping her spirits up, despite the disheartening words about her prospects from just about everyone.
To mold these individual stories into a cohesive whole through its use of light, shadows, fight choreography by Yuen Bun, and a counter-intuitive musical score by Peter Kam. He is assisted by his usual team in his Milkyway productions, including cinematographer Cheng Siu Keung and editor David Richardson.
A film that defies easy categorization, To throw is way more than it looks, which is why I enjoyed looking at all of the special features that are included.
– Johnnie To (2004) – 40 min – An exceptional interview with the director, in which he reviews the birth of the film, its sometimes difficult working relationship with the actors, and its artistic intentions.
– Fill in the Blanks (new) – 11 min – You Nai-hoi, one of the three credited writers, explains how the original premise of the film has changed and delves into To’s working relationship with him on the screenplay, which changed frequently during production.
– Finding the Pulse (new) – 11 min – Composer Peter Kam talks about the way he composes films, the benefits of working with To before, and how he strove to marry his musical ideas with the film.
– Hidden in Plain Sight (new) – 21 min – Cinema specialist David Bordwell analyzes the film in the context of classical cinema, with expert analysis of the themes and how To challenges expected tropes.
– Kicking Conventions (new) -13 min – Cinema specialist Caroline Guo expertly views the film from the perspective of Hong Kong audiences.
– Making of (2004) – 11 min – A more traditional supplement, in which the director and the main actors respectively describe the film and their roles.
– Original theatrical trailer – Doing their best to market the film.
In conclusion: Very good movie, much better than I expected, and a great Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
Yau doh lung fu bong
- Nai Hoi Yau
- Tin-Shing Yip
- Kin-Yee Au
- Louis koo
- Aaron Kwok
- Cherry Ying