Well, it had to happen sooner or later: a disappointing Johnnie To film, albeit one co-directed by Ka-Fei Wai. It's not so much that the film is exactly bad, more that it's so average when it could and should have been much better. A riff on Assassins, with reckless hitman Andy Lau trying to eliminate Takashi Sorimachi and take his crown, there are plenty of good ideas and clever plot twists and, while utterly unbelievable, Lau's character never becomes as much of a clown as Antonio Banderas in Richard Donner's film. But there's a clumsiness, not just to the film's construction but also its execution, as if it were made by less experienced hands. One major problem is the multilingual treatment: the Cantonese and Japanese dialog is fine, but huge chunks of the film are played in English, and neither Lau nor Simon Yam are particularly fluent in it, rendering much of their dialog painfully awkward (to be fair, Yam comes off far worse). The end, where everybody gets what they want, feels right, but there's a curious sense of underachieving throughout the film: the constant question isn't "What'll happen next?" but "Why isn't this as good as it should be?" One for the money, I suspect.
Tartan's DVD includes a making of documentary and trailer but sadly also boasts very poor picture quality.