Better than the Real Thing: The First 7 Minutes of Breaking News

Once you’ve seen a John Woo film, it’s hard to go back to a regular action movie. The Hong Kong director is the maestro of the action genre – using lengthy sequences of slow-motion, two-fisted gunplay, and his muse of cool: Chow Yun Fat. I should correct myself: once you’ve seen a Hong Kong John Woo film it’s hard to go back. The Killer and Hard Boiled are two must-see movies for anyone who thinks of themselves as a fan of bullets-and-blood.

After seeing a Woo film though, you’re spoiled. Other action movies can’t reach the height of his masterpieces, and once you’ve exhausted his canon, you’re constantly on the prowl for Woo-esque films.

Johnnie To seems like he could be a worthy successor. I’ve only seen two of his films so far, Vengeance (which I thought was pretty awful), and Breaking News, the topic of this post.

The opening of Breaking News may be the most incredible, technically mesmerizing, and action-packed of any film. For seven minutes there are no cuts, as the camera tracks back and forth between the cops and the criminals in an alley-way shootout. The rest of the film is a fun adrenaline thriller, but it’s never able to reach the bar that the opening sequence sets for it. That’s why it has been included in the Better than the Real Thing catalogue. While Breaking News is a good movie, the opening sequence requires that it be a terrific one. Check out the first seven minutes of the film below. You’ll have a tough time not wanting to see the whole thing.

Note: The clip does not have subtitles so the story is as follows: two undercover cops are sitting in their unmarked car watching the apartment of a gang of bank robbers. Then a traffic cop (not working with the undercover cops) wants to talk to one of the bank robbers about a traffic violation. The undercover cops try to create a distraction when the two construction workers (also undercover cops) get into a fight. It looks like they’ve avoided being discovered but then the traffic cop asks what’s in the bag in the backseat of the bank robber’s car…


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