By Stephen Teo
The e-book presents a complete review of To's occupation, focusing on his motion motion pictures, that is the style during which To has excelled.
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Additional info for Director in Action: Johnnie To and the Hong Kong Action Film
67 But I would argue that the reverse could also occur with the filmmaker utilizing the industry’s production conditions to free himself. Constraint can cut both ways, and To as his own producer and as a vital player in the industry (who enforces constraints in his own right) can be said to have harnessed the limitations of the Hong Kong film industry to his advantage. To called his series of action films, The Mission, PTU, Breaking News, “exercises” — indicating more experimental, formalistic works that he undertook in between commercial products.
Needing You (2000), Help! (2000), Running on Karma (2003) and Throw Down Introduction 25 (2004) are fascinating works, combining tragedy and comedy, pathos and bathos, complicating but not necessarily obscuring the vision of To as an action auteur. Johnnie Gets His Gun My discussion above touched upon the possibility that To could have become a part of the New Wave if he had persisted in the film industry rather than returned to television. However, if we regard the New Wave not as an isolated burst of creative activity that took place within a brief period of time but as an extended process of cyclic developments, To’s status could be reassessed.
To has put away his guns to devise ever more novel ways of articulating cinematic violence. They show To forever trying to top himself and dash the expectations of his public and the critics. Thus the films go a long way to defining his auteur status as a condition of tenacious autonomy. 85 If he chooses to invoke it, To has this right as an auteur, an autonomous film artist beholden only to his work, and it is perhaps best to bear this in mind upfront as one pointer into his methodology and thinking (my interview with To, in the appendix, serves to demonstrate this).