Breaking News (2004) Dai si gein
Directed by Johnny To
Starring Kelly Chen (Infernal Affairs), Nick Cheung (Election)
Theres nothing new with cops n robbers films, exhilarating shoot outs and chases, neither is a hostage situation unique but Breaking News does manage to bring something new or maybe up to date to the party. The media: circus that it is, the most manipulative method of conveying a message to the masses plays a part in the plot that is as important if not more so than the police or the criminals.
When a shoot up goes wrong, a news team captures the mess and its relayed on television. With the loss of face for the police comes a public loss of confidence, they decide to launch a massive manhunt and ensure that once theyve found the crooks, they have enormous media coverage for the arrests. Inspector Fong knows how to use the press to the advantage of the police but doesnt count on a loose cannon, Inspector Cheung getting involved or on the crooks using technology to their advantage.
A tense firefight ensues as the police and Inspector Cheungs team force the crooks into an apartment where hostages are taken, from a game of cat and mouse the siege then becomes more of a chess game. The gang is aware of the huge media interest and also knows that the police reports are being carefully edited to show them in a good light. Using a PC, they start their own internet broadcasts showing the lies covered up by the police, including officers injured by a fire bomb.
Back and forth both sides try to manipulate the media, the police to try and win public approval, the crooks to show that the police are lying in their reports and to show that they (the bad guys) have a decent side. The crooks eventually set the ball rolling so they can escape, but their own technology is used against them leading to their eventual demise.
Five years ago this would have seemed futuristic or far fetched but what we see is actually an example of what were being fed every day. The perfect example is Iraq, on one side we receive heavily edited reports while the other is making use of the Internet to garner the worlds attention. Neither side tells the whole truth but both sides try to manipulate their respective audiences. So the film may seem like a parody about the power of the press but when you look at recent events, you have to wonder.
I enjoyed the film a lot despite one or two minor plot loopholes, The action is taut, as is the editing and the camera work gives it a documentary feel at times. If you like the idea of a decent crime drama that is bang up to date then give Breaking News a try, especially since itll probably be remade by Hollywood.
No BBFC rating yet but probably 15.
R3 ntsc dvd available from various suppliers.