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Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) DVD Region 3

Richie Jen (Actor) | Lau Ching Wan (Actor) | Denise Ho (Actor) | Myolie Wu (Actor)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Looking for a new creative direction after three decades in filmmaking, Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To has come up with his latest cinematic tour de force. Life Without Principle is a timely and biting satire of greed in a turbulent world where everyone involved is more or less playing a losing game. Three years in the making, the crime drama is sophisticatedly scripted and with the stylistic touches that will delight fans of Milkyway Image. It was screened in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to wide acclaim. Back on home soil, the film stood out at the 18th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, winning Best Screenplay in addition to Best Actor for Lau Ching Wan, who leads the superb cast including another To regular Richie Jen and pop singer Denise Ho. The ensemble also features numerous familiar faces like Myolie Wu, Philip Keung, Lo Hoi Pang, So Hang Suen, Tam Bing Man, JJ Jia, Felix Wong, and Eddie Cheung.

The story of Life Without Principle unfolds with three interconnected plotlines involving people from different walks of life. Forced to sell high-risk investment products to her clients, bank teller Teresa (Denise Ho) is tempted to steal a big bag of cash that belonged to her wealthy client Yuen (Lo Hoi Pang). Meanwhile, small-time gangster Panther (Lau Ching Wan) attempts to rob loan shark Yuen in a bid to help his debt-ridden cousin Dragon (Philip Keung), who suffered huge loss on black market futures when the financial crisis hit. Investigating the case is upright police inspector Cheung (Richie Jen), who also has a heavy financial burden on his shoulder as his wife Connie (Myolie Wu) is eager to buy a luxurious apartment they can't quite afford.

Hong Kong Version DVD comes with special features: trailer, making-of, and deleted scenes.

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Technical Information

Product Title: Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) 奪命金 (2011) (DVD) (香港版) 夺命金 (2011) (DVD) (香港版) 奪命金 (2011) (DVD) (香港版) Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
Artist Name(s): Richie Jen (Actor) | Lau Ching Wan (Actor) | Denise Ho (Actor) | Myolie Wu (Actor) | Lo Hoi Pang (Actor) | Terence Yin (Actor) | Philip Keung (Actor) | Tam Bing Man (Actor) | Felix Wong (Actor) | Lo Wai Kwong (Actor) | So Hang Suen (Actor) | Stephanie Che (Actor) | Eddie Cheung (Actor) | JJ Jia (Actor) 任 賢齊 (Actor) | 劉 青雲 (Actor) | 何 韻詩 (Actor) | 胡杏兒 (Actor) | 盧海鵬 (Actor) | 尹子維 (Actor) | 姜 皓文 (Actor) | 譚炳文 (Actor) | 黃日華 (Actor) | 盧惠光 (Actor) | 蘇 杏璇 (Actor) | 車婉婉 (Actor) | 張兆輝 (Actor) | 賈曉晨 (Actor) 任 贤齐 (Actor) | 刘 青云 (Actor) | 何 韵诗 (Actor) | 胡杏儿 (Actor) | 卢海鹏 (Actor) | 尹子维 (Actor) | 姜 皓文 (Actor) | 谭炳文 (Actor) | 黄日华 (Actor) | 卢惠光 (Actor) | 苏 杏璇 (Actor) | 车婉婉 (Actor) | 张兆辉 (Actor) | 贾晓晨 (Actor) 任賢齊(リッチー・レン) (Actor) | 劉青雲(ラウ・チンワン) (Actor) | 何韻詩 (デニス・ホー) (Actor) | 胡杏兒 (マイオリー・ウー) (Actor) | 廬海鵬(ロー・ホイパン) (Actor) | 尹子維(テレンス・イン) (Actor) | 姜皓文(キョン・ヒウマン) (Actor) | 譚[火丙]文(タム・ビンマン) (Actor) | 黄日華(フェリックス・ウォン) (Actor) | 慮恵光(ロー・ワイコン) (Actor) | So Hang Suen (Actor) | 車婉婉(ステファニー・チェー) (Actor) | 張兆輝(チョン・シウファイ) (Actor) | 賈曉晨 (ジャー・シャオチェン) (Actor) Richie Jen (Actor) | Lau Ching Wan (Actor) | Denise Ho (Actor) | Myolie Wu (Actor) | Lo Hoi Pang (Actor) | Terence Yin (Actor) | Philip Keung (Actor) | Tam Bing Man (Actor) | Felix Wong (Actor) | Lo Wai Kwong (Actor) | So Hang Suen (Actor) | Stephanie Che (Actor) | Eddie Cheung (Actor) | JJ Jia (Actor)
Director: Johnnie To 杜琪峰 杜琪峰 杜琪峰 (ジョニー・トー)  Johnnie To
Producer: Johnnie To 杜琪峰 杜琪峰 杜琪峰 (ジョニー・トー)  Johnnie To
Release Date: 2012-02-16
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Country of Origin: Hong Kong
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Widescreen Anamorphic: Yes
Sound Information: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Digital Surround
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 3 - South East Asia (including Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taiwan) What is it?
Rating: IIB
Duration: 107 (mins)
Publisher: Intercontinental Video (HK)
Package Weight: 120 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1030301591

Product Information

* Special Features:
- Trailer
- Making Of
- Unseen Footages

Producer/Director: Johnnie To

What do a bank teller, a small-time thug and a police inspector have in common? Nothing, not until a bag of stolen money worth $5m crosses their paths and forces them to make soul searching decisions about right and wrong and everything in between on the morality scale...
Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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Awards

This film has won 5 award(s) and received 9 award nomination(s). All Award-Winning Asian Films

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

February 29, 2012

Johnnie To has long been a great filmmaker, but a socially relevant one? Not as much. Election 2 is the closest To has ever come to making a film about Hong Kong, and that film's take was allegorical, using a gangland election to present To's particular view of the "Special Administrative Region." Election 2 represented Hong Kong, but was it really about what happens in Hong Kong and to its people? Nope. Given that, Life Without Principle is new territory for To, as it's about the things that concern Hong Kong people every single day. It's also not about the things that concern Johnnie To's international fanbase, i.e. brotherhood, honor, guns and other fanboy genre staples. What bridges those concerns: triad characters and Johnnie To's use of irony, which is so dry and sharp here that it appears to be something new. But it really isn't. The subject may be different, but the arch sense of humor ultimately reveals Life Without Principle as To being To yet again. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

To uses a large cast of characters to tell a number of stories, but focuses on three characters in particular. Bank officer Teresa (Denise Ho) is looking at the inevitable pink slip for her poor performance, and under pressure to make her numbers, she foists a high-risk fund on the wrong customer. Cop Cheung (Richie Jen) is busy chasing an elderly murderer and investigating the death of a loan shark who was bludgeoned in an underground parking garage, plus he's distracted by his wife Connie (Myolie Wu), who's so set on buying a new high-rise flat that she opts for an unwise loan. Finally, loyal but inept triad Panther (Lau Ching-Wan) takes a breather from the archaic triad underworld to broker stocks for former colleague Lung (Keung Ho-Man). Panther is diligent but given his comic bluster one wonders how he'll really do when it's time to start trading funds. Then IT ALL GOES TO HELL. The stock market takes a precipitous tumble, sending everyone into a mad scramble to buy, sell or get the hell out. Tensions rise, events crisscross and soon the ridiculous, dark and greedy heart of Hong Kong is exposed. Or something.

Life Without Principle is about money, money, money and how it changes, distorts and makes us who we are. Lives are compromised, people are enslaved and fates change in a second thanks to the all-consuming power of the [Hong Kong] dollar, and To gets this everyday tension across in remarkable fashion. Teresa has a small office at the bank, and it seems even smaller thanks to the nervous customers and the life-changing (and illegal) decision she's about to make. Characters sweat profusely, nervously check their stock ticker, and fill banks and stock trading offices with so much suffocating panic. Money motivates everyone - except perhaps Panther and Cheung, who are more representative of To's usual archetypes. Cheung is an honest, forthright cop, and though his wife lambastes him for being stubborn and indecisive, he's anything but when putting his life on the line for his job. Panther believes in righteousness and brotherhood, but everyone around him is self-serving or up and quits when it doesn't suit them. Cheung appears admirable for his stoic cop cool, but Panther an ineffectual parody of the glamorized Hong Kong gangster.

This tense and sometimes ironic portrayal of Hong Kong makes up much of Principle, and the observations cut even deeper because the ironies are so very true. Banks offer to invest your money for you, but they charge exorbitant handling fees and sometimes risk their customers' futures in order to guarantee their earnings. Money-mad Hong Kongers will speculate without research or thought, dooming their nest eggs because they're blinded by the allure of a few extra percentage points. An ex-triad (Felix Wong Yat-Wah) recycles cardboard for a living, and he makes more money now than he did as a gangster. The rise of China, the sad decline of the triad underworld - Johnnie To and his writers spent years on Life Without Principle, and if they used that time to mash these smart details into a larger narrative, then it was time well spent. Principle has lots of dialogue, but the meat isn't what's said but what's happening behind, around and because of the words. Observations and minutiae are rich, every detail serving to up the tension or push To's themes.

Also effective is the film's nonlinear storyline, repeating events from different perspectives to create suspense or lengthen the tension. Acting is across the board solid, with the actors playing gang characters getting the juiciest and most entertaining roles. Lau Ching-Wan's dopey affectations are convincing if not a little showy, and Keung Ho-Man and Terence Yin(!) earn extra credit for their blackly funny turns. The plot twists become increasingly exaggerated but never cross over into full-on comedy, Johnnie To's touch remaining controlled and stylistically real. The irony and satire are razor sharp here, revealing colder truths that tap directly into the Hong Kong zeitgeist. Still, the story is less impressive than the execution. The story leans too much on coincidence and serendipity, and the only character that really changes is Connie. The others simply remain as they are, showing us how they (and maybe we) might react in a chaotic financial meltdown. The results are revealing but never truly surprising. We know the lure of money can be blinding, and To doesn't seem to tell us much more than that.

In the end, Life Without Principle is more about observations than destinations. We get a cynical, ironic portrait of Hong Kong and its money-mad people, but nothing occurs that really illuminates or provokes deeper thought. The film doesn't create truly complete characters or situations, and the resolutions are sometimes glib or untold. Two characters end up with vastly changed lives, but why does that happen? One character ends up roughly the same as they started, but why does that happen? To is a specialist at smart satire - he can celebrate and skewer through his enormous talent as a director, but he sometimes doesn't follow through. The result is usually cleverness for the sake of cleverness. To needs a stronger, more accomplished screenplay with stronger characters and better story arcs to really bring his game to a new level. But this is a high level quibble. Life Without Principle means more and says more than the usual Johnnie To work, and is still a damn good movie no matter how you slice it. It's not among To's very best, but that's a very high bar. Hong Kong Cinema fans - be they past, present or future - are lucky to get this much.

by Kozo - LoveHKFilm.com

Feature articles that mention "Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

This original content has been created by or licensed to YesAsia.com, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of YesAsia.com.

Customer Review of "Life Without Principle (2011) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 4 - 4 out of 10 (1)

ADRIAN
See all my reviews


March 13, 2012

This customer review refers to Life Without Principle (2011) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)
1 people found this review helpful

YAWN! Customer Review Rated Bad 4 - 4 out of 10
I had been looking forward to watching this film a lot. However, it turned out to be a bitter dissapointment. Its such a dull story and the only bright spot was lau ching wan. Picture quality was very good. Sound was fine although despite being in 7.1 surround very little was heard out of the surround speakers as its very much a dialogue driven film.
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