Review: ‘One Last Dance’

A soulful lead performance by Francis Ng as a disillusioned hit man is the main reason to see "One Last Dance," a Singapore-set tribute to Hong Kong gangster movies from maverick Brazilian-born scribe-director Max Makowski. Muted, atmospheric exercise is a culturally mixed grab-bag of violence and humor that no doubt will find a niche among Asian-cinema extremists on video.

A soulful lead performance by Francis Ng as a disillusioned hit man is the main reason to see “One Last Dance,” a Singapore-set tribute to Hong Kong gangster movies from maverick Brazilian-born scribe-director Max Makowski. Muted, atmospheric exercise is a culturally mixed grab-bag of genre references, over-the-top violence and occasionally broad humor that no doubt will find a niche among Asian-cinema extremists on video.

Ng plays T, a shadowy assassin who becomes embroiled in a confusing web of kidnappers and Italian mobsters (one played by Harvey Keitel). Time-shuffling structure, cartoonishly stylized bursts of blood and a suitcase whose contents are never revealed suggest a lingering “Pulp Fiction” residue, albeit in a moodier, less virtuosic key. A sensitive soul who plays correspondence chess with the captain of the police force (Ti Lung), T falls in love with a beautiful waitress (Vivian Hsu), the sister of gangster Ko (Joseph Quek), as the pic mutates — with ample assistance from John Swihart’s lovely score — into an awkwardly poignant study of a killer’s longing for lost innocence.

One Last Dance

Singapore

Production

A Mediacorp Raintree Pictures, Media Development Authority of Singapore, the Film Bund and Ming Prods. presentation in association with Presto Films. Produced by Titus Ho, Peter Loehr. Executive producers, Daniel Yun, San Fu Maltha, Dalbag Khaira, Aimee Shieh. Co-producer, Chan Pui Yin. Directed, written by Max Makowski.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Charlie Lam; editor, Lawrence Ang; music, John Swihart; production designer, Aleta Shaffer; art directors, Yeo Lee Nah, Nick Ng; set decorator, Rain Guo Ping Ting. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema, competing), Jan. 22, 2006. Cantonese dialogue. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Francis Ng, Ti Lung, Vivian Hsu, Joseph Quek, Salina Chung Yee Hung, Harvey Keitel.

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