Genre: Crime drama
Running Time: 1 hour 34 mins
Director: Johnnie To
Cast: Lau Ching Wan, Richie Jen, Denise Ho, Myolie Wu, Yoyo Chan
Synopsis: “Life Without Principle, which tells the story of three characters in a turbulent world: a bank teller turned financial analyst who is forced into an aggressive sales strategy to meet company targets, a small-time thug forced to take unexpected risks to post nail for a friend, and an honest cop who suddenly becomes desperate for money after his wife agreed to purchase a luxury apartment. The group who share a desperate need for money are linked when a bag with $5 million in stolen money appears” (GSC Movies).
Verdict: Many questions came up to my mind while watching this film – would I have done this or that; is money a problem solver or the root of all evil? Life Without Principle is very purposefully written and Lau Ching Wan‘s performance here (as Ah Pao/Panther, a dumb but loyal gangster) is probably his best ever. However, director and producer Johnnie To failed to get viewers as engaged to the other two stories as to Lau’s. Also, I don’t really get the point of having nonlinear timeline sequences. Perhaps he’s better off with triad-focused movies.
Favourite quote: [SPOILER BEGINS HERE] “How many times does (September 11) happen?” says one of the bank’s sales person (Yoyo Chen) while convincing her customer that unit trust investment is safe [SPOILER ENDS HERE].
Favourite quote 2: [SPOILER BEGINS HERE] “You said you’d watch over my stocks? What difference does it make? What could you have done? Ultimately, you could only watch them go down,” says Yuen (Lo Hoi Pang) to the bank teller-cum-sales person, Teresa (Denise Ho) [SPOILER ENDS HERE].
The ending: [SPOILER BEGINS HERE] Teresa quits her job and takes the 5 million bucks, Panther walks away with the other half of the cash, and Cheung (Richie Ren) reconciles with his girlfriend, Connie (Myolie Wu), before returning to the real estate agency to find out that their apartment has a wealthy buyer. Considering how competent Cheung is, the physical evidences and witnesses should eventually lead to Teresa and Panther’s arrests. The moral of the stories is basically just this – don’t be greedy. Doesn’t matter you’re a gangster, a bank employee or a cop, all would be pressured when it comes down to money [SPOILER ENDS HERE].
Special cameo appearance by… Ng Chi Hung, more popularly known as Big Brother Bee from the Young and Dangerous film franchise. His little role here also goes by the same name.
Rating: 4 / 5
Second opinion: “Quite nice, pitiful” (Iris Loong).