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Breaking News – 2004 To
- Johnnie To’s Breaking News is justifiably well known its opening shot. The shot lasts nearly seven minutes in total and has been compared some of the great opening shots in cinema history. To’s camera starts on a skyscraper and then floats down to street level. From there it roams back up through a window – pauses– and tracks along to the street —all via a crane. The camera hovers around a suspicious car (if any cinephile was not already thinking of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil… they are now) before violence breaks out. There are a hundreds, if not thousands of bullets fired in a complex action sequence as the crane drifts back up to the roof to capture a man jumping from the second floor. This shot is just gobsmacking—it is the aforementioned Touch of Evil meets John Woo meets Heat.
- The entire running time of Breaking News is only 89-minutes so this introductory shot and set piece (which the rest of the film can never quite live up to) is a sizable chunk or percentage of the film.
- Throughout, Johnnie To proves to have an active camera—whipping around the back end of a Honda Civic in another scene- the camera tracks across in almost every shot. In another sequence later the camera spins around with a guy on the bike.
- At the 29-minute mark Johnnie To uses a split screen during a grenade action sequence- he will use the split again several times later.
- The Rebecca character (Kelly Chen) is sort of like Ed Harris in Apollo 13 quarterbacking all the action from the control room.
- The large apartment complex makes for a grand set piece
- A long shot of an elevator shaft—black on both side of the frame—the cop and robber talking to each other like Kurosawa’s High and Low
- A poorly chosen piece of Burt Bacharach-like music drops at the 56-minute mark with the cops and media—the flatulence in that scene pretty much sums up that choice.
- The crux of the message is about the media (a damning look at the media) and that relationship with violence- “this is a show”.
- Recommend/ Highly Recommend border