The Odd One Dies:”We rascals are all prepared. This is a rascal’s life. We keep repeating the same thing. This is the destiny of rascals.”

Year:1997
Directed by Patrick Yau and Johnnie To
Produced by
Written by Wai Ka-Fai
Cast:Takeshi Kaneshiro,Carman Lee,Lam Suet,Woo Nin Byun

A downbeat and aimless hitman loses interest in killing a target he was hired to do after winning a great deal of money from gambling. Now, he hires another hitman to finish the job, but the two killers end up sharing a life changing bond.

The Odd One Dies is truly the odd one out. It’s quite distinctive yet not distinctive enough to be its own thing. The Odd One Dies is an orphan of a movie. The Odd One Dies has largely been forgotten. It’s both derivative and idiosyncratic in its style. It is visceral both on a primal and emotional level. The Odd One Dies dares to be bleak and, and while having a strange romanticism underneath it all.

The Odd One Dies takes more than a page out of Hong Kong’s most iconic auteur Wong Kar-wai. The Odd One Dies is steeped in Wong Kar-wai inspired like visuals. The casting of Takeshi Kaneshiro in the role feels like a callback to Chungking Express and Fallen Angels just by association. A Hong Kong filled with neon lights is inexplicably cool. Though, the inspired quirks from Wong Kar-wai could be quite superficial compared to the actual works of Wong Kar-wai. The biggest difference is probably unlike Wong’s characters who tend to be fascinated with reliving the past. The Odd One Dies has its characters escaping the past by wanting a better future and living in the moment. There is no love for nostalgia. The past here is rather site of pain. The blend of intimate colors and low-key lighting really taps into the visceral spirit of the narrative. Music is rather an odd synthesized tune that sounds like samba music. Music is an odd juxtaposition with what’s usually onscreen, but it works in favor to lessen the intensity for a playful atmosphere.When I mentioned ”living in the moment”, I really meant it. The pacing doesn’t skip a beat with the lead Mo just making spur-of-the-moment decisions constantly. It’s jarring initially since the plot moves so fast that you’ll think you missed a few scenes. And, the time devoted to one particular gambling scene is confusing and unnecessary. Some people have said this film is slow, but I don’t know what they meant. The Odd One Dies felt like a rush of excitement since the characters are constantly doing different activities under pressing conditions. The comedy is rather off kilter, and the unsettling kind as someone’s fingers getting sliced off is used for comedic purposes. Though, that type of humor isn’t too prominent here, but it’s noticeable enough.

For all of its sporadic violence and high octane style of a narrative, the heart, and charm of it is in Mio and Carman Lee’s unnamed character’s relationship. Mio is an aimless young man with little forethought. He’s a frantic madman that would be an empty vessel if Takeshi Kaneshiro’s skillful acting didn’t inject a wondrous innocence. Somehow Takeshi Kaneshiro’s portrayal makes Mio’s tendency for violence a form of self-expression rather than the whims of a sociopath. Mio is a man without of an apparent past. Mio lives totally in the moment. He’s so ”in the moment” that he lacks a future or a dream to work towards.

Mio’s love interest goes unnamed. ”The Girl”is another lost soul leading an aimless life. Her initial impassive face is deceiving as we learn about the broken person that she is. She is glued to the past , and the past has consumed her in body and mind. Carmen Lee’s portrayal is a masterful showcase of expression and emotion as the switch between fatal femme fatale and tortured soul is seamless. Mio doesn’t care about the past while for her there is nothing, but the painful trauma of the past. Both of them sit on the opposite end of a spectrum in regards to how they treat the future. One is too consumed by the present to care about the future and the other is too consumed by the past to do the same. This weakness in both becomes the source of their bond. It transforms what would be a typical romance to something more substantial. The attraction between the two is the shared desire to have a better future. A trip to Japan represents that better future. The two do truly change after this connection is made and then strengthened. Even though hints of this romance doesn’t come out until the halfway of this film, but once it arises the narrative’s whimsical overtone comes alive and resonates. The climax like the narrative itself is deceiving. The initial violence leads the way to an everlasting sense of hope in the face of a harrowing situation.

The Odd One Dies is a hyper charged movie that consists of a great narrative and visuals. The Odd One Dies matches beats of Wong Wong Kar-wai visually while delivering a stimulating narrative of its own.

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