Johnnie To may be one of the most prolific Hong Kong directors working today, having directed at least two films a year since the early 90s, but he’s also one of the most important. With John Woo and many other prominent HK directors crossing the waters to direct films in America during the 90s, things back home started to get a bit stale, especially when it came to modern-day crime films. Johnnie To helped rejuvenate Hong Kong cinema with some stellar crime and action films (see The Mission and Fulltime Killer), and he’s only gotten better over time. 2006’s Exiled (now available on Netflix Watch Instantly) is a prime example of his dedication to characters, slick action, and all-out baddassery.
Now we have a trailer for his upcoming film Vengeance, and it surely doesn’t disappoint. The film stars French actor/musician Johnny Hallyday (wearing the Charles Bronson mask well, I might add), and To regulars Simon Yam and Anthony Wong. If you’ve seen any major HK films in the past ten years, you’ll probably recognize the latter two.
A father comes to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter whose family was murdered. Officially he’s a French chef. Twenty years ago, he was a killer.
The trailer starts off with a big Taken vibe and then goes on to show us what To does best: Guys posturing with an effortless sense of cool, lots of gunplay, and great visuals all around. This is my first time seeing Hallyday in a film, and he comes across as the perfect sort of actor for a Johnny To film.
Judging from this trailer, I think Vengeance has the potential to be To’s most accessible (and hopefully most successful) film for English speaking audiences. I’m sure the entire film doesn’t have English dialog, but it helps greatly to sell foreign films, and the Taken resemblance will only help the film with action fans looking for something similar.
Vengeance is currently scheduled for a 2009 release in France and Hong Kong, but there’s no word on other release dates yet. Given To’s status it’ll surely get a more international release, the only problem now is that we have to play the waiting game.