Throw Down 柔道龙虎榜 (2004) – Hong Kong


Throw Down 柔道龙虎榜 (2004)

A tale on the rewards afforded of camaraderie, a team of three disillusioned young people scheme and fight for changes in their lives. Johnnie To’s Throw Down is as much fun as it is heart-warming, a truly different kind of sentiment movie. It makes its message a clear one on improvements and friendship. What’s more exciting is its use of classical film making and innovative cinematography to turn the cliched engaging. Casual viewers can absorb its plot in a passive way, but hard-core cinephiles too will find much detail in its theme on bettering  neighbors to generate questions on screenwriting methodology, set work, camera placement, and narrative style.

Judo Drunk & Friends

Following the lives of Sze, Mona, and Tony, Thrown Down is focused on finding comfort in the company of +1. Sze, a once great Judo champ, is an always drunk club manager filling his days with small cons and pickpockets to feed his gambling addiction. When Mona, an aspiring entertainer, and Tony, an upcoming Judo star, walk through his club doors to find him, for a singer’s job and a dueling kind of practice, respectively, he dupes them into following his tricks and schemes. The two, knowing he’s not all there, find his company of benefit, and they remain with him. He’s not an ideal boss, but somehow they know of improving him, perhaps bring him back to his older Judo ways. While they help him, their lives will too improve, and gorgeous set work fills our frame.

Not focused on romance or comedy, it crafts empathy with the sensual and the funny. Alcohol abuse, down-on-your-luck pessimism, and refusal for change are all narrative lines exhausted in cinema, but here they’re renewed. Careful dialogue and body language make it so that unity in friendship triumphs assumed complexity in story or plot. You want to know more of their developing as a team.

Scenes are all too interesting to spoil, the aesthetic choices in both set design and music complementing the fictional world plenty. Although it’s no Stand by Me, its glossy and finely polished, finding small moments between characters an opportunity for artistic imagination. In another’s hands, the outcome would likely fail. This one is gradually enjoyable, and it’s a watch from me.

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