Exiled is a movie that demands you pay very close attention for the first fifteen minutes, because the flick doesn't stop to deliver big blocks of exposition or early character development. We open with a half-dozen gun-wielding men. We don't know the good guys from the bad guys or why they're all wielding those guns. An elaborately hectic gun battle breaks out ... and then the surviving combatants drop their weapons and begin renovating an apartment. Yes, seriously. Don't mistake Johnny To's Exiled for a convoluted or indecipherable affair, though; it's actually quite a simple little story -- but the veteran filmmaker seems to be having some fun by dropping us into the mix without a map and commanding us to keep up.
It's a pretty engrossing first act, I can tell you that much, and if the rest of Exiled doesn't quite live up to its early promise, there's still more than enough mayhem to keep the gangster fans entertained. Plus it kind of turns into a western in Act III, which I found bizarre but also quite entertaining. The meat of the story is fairly basic: A bunch of childhood friends, now on opposite sides of warring families, must band together to avoid a common enemy. Picture The Dirty (Half) Dozen of Asian mafioso types, and that's pretty much Exiled to a tee. It's a fast-paced and surprisingly amusing piece from a stunningly prolific Hong Kong moviemaker who really knows his genre stuff.