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.
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.