Take a Drink: whenever ‘Panther’ screws something up
Take a Drink: whenever you, too, get lost in the haze of financial speak
Take a Drink: for snarky interviews
Take a Drink: whenever the bank tries to rip someone the fuck off
Take a Drink: when they succeed
Do a Shot: whenever the real Wolf of Finance Street shows up to explain the stupidity of banks and hit on chicks
Do a Shot: for arrest masks- good idea
Do a Shot: Ha! His name is Lung! (Wait for it.)
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
You know what time it is? It’s To Time!
Yep, we have another Johnnie To movie on top, and as is his wont, he’s trying out something new. Life Without Principle is a financial thriller following three people over the course of a day: a cop, a bank employee, and a small-time gangster, as they bet big and fight for their financial (or actual) lives.
Johnnie To knows what he does, and how to do it well. Once more he’s applying brawny 90s-style action tropes to a not explicitly genre topic, financial hanky-panky (because most of this isn’t criminal… yet).
The film is at its strongest, and most evocative part of the film is the setup, especially when the banker is going about her workday, under quota pressure and bending the rules but not breaking them (except in spirit) whenever she can in order to meet it. This part plays like a financial slasher flick, as you just want to scream at the screen as people make one bad decision after another.
Bitch, watch out for that adjustable rate mortgage!
After that, To cleverly juxtaposes her actions and the significantly less organized crime of low-level Hong-Kong mobsters, leaving no doubt as to who’s the more efficient pickpocket. He also draws even stronger parallels between the markets and gambling, especially its addictiveness and white knuckle thrills. When in the end some characters walk away well in the black, we all know it’s just a matter of time before they’re back at it.
After the strangely gripping financial portion of the film, things grind to a halt when it switches focus to the gangsters, possibly the first time ever a film has gotten more exciting when the accountant shows up.
Buckle up, motherfuckers!
As is the time-honored standard in Chinese comedy, it’s pretty much all wide-eyed yelling. I guess it may appeal to that tiny cross-section of Madea fans and subtitle lovers.
A last beer for how the melodrama in this film just snowballs until it’s an unstoppable avalanche rushing towards the finale. In the end a character decides short-selling the market is a more pressing concern than the metal skewer in his lung. I’ll give you one guess as to how that works out for him.
Life Without Principle is an often thrilling, although sometimes silly, look at financial brinksmanship in all its forms.