Gatao the Last Stray is an action-romance film directed by Jui-Chih Chiang and starring Rexen Cheng and Nikki Hsieh, alongside other cast members.
Romance unexpectedly blossoms when a freelance photographer arrives late to her assignment at a full moon celebration thrown for a mob boss’s newborn.
Gatao the Last Stray opens with a hardcore fight sequence taking place in the rain under a bridge in slow-motion. Whatever thoughts you had after you read the synopsis are quickly solidified at this and it turns out to be a huge banner on the face telling you that there’s definitely going to be some serious action going on here. Are you correct with those assumptions? Well…
The freelance photographer in question turns out to be the feisty Chi. She’s late for her work assignment and promptly plops her gear in the arms of one of Ren’s right-hand men, Qing, and goes off to work. It’s a surprising turn of events, and that’s evident from the two guys who bear witness to it.
Among all the business dealings going on in the party, Chi keeps directing Lin Yu Qing to properly hold her equipment and focus the light. Well, until a scuffle results in him dropping one of her cameras. She is obviously heartbroken and Qing looks embarrassed and guilty as well. She doesn’t say anything to him though and refuses to let him replace her broken camera and leaves.
As the romance blossoms between Chi and Qing, there’s a dark drug underbelly just rising from the ashes that promises to flood North Fort. The rivalry among the different gangsters and everything illegal provides a stark contrast to the sweet and gentle romance between the leads. These moments become quite interesting to watch.
Gatao the Last Stray introduces a lot of politics, backstabbings and illegal activities to keep the romance spicy. Although you can expect where the story can go from the beginning, it’s still interesting to watch, especially because leads Rexen Cheng and Nikki Hsieh are so damn likeable. Their chemistry is great and every moment they are on-screen will make you smile.
Of course, good things come in very small doses and that’s what we get to see here as well. The last 30 minutes of Gatao the Last Stray is a barrage of sadness and despair and a lot of fighting. The revenge angle is good, but I did not like the fact that Chi’s character acts as only a plot device to showcase the more humane side of Qing as well as to push the story forward later on. No, she doesn’t die but I wish we got more of her in the story as well. And yes, I am aware that this is a gangster movie.
The romance angle of Gatao the Last Stray as well as the lead pair keep the story fresh and bearable. Otherwise, this would’ve been just another gangster movie that we have seen too many times before. I loved how the story meshes the various parts of its narrative and makes it cohesive and easy to follow. The action sequences are fine, nothing of note to be honest. But sometimes it feels a bit fake when around 50 men try to murder Qing but can’t. It’s shocking.
There’s some gore and bloodshed, but nothing that will make you squirm or look away.
Summing up: Gatao the Last Stray
Gatao the Last Stray is a gangster/romance movie that has its sweet moments and moments of thrill all mixed into one. I liked the first half more than the second; the latter became too predictable too soon and did not provide a satisfactory end to an otherwise enjoyable movie. The film doesn’t have anything new that sets it apart, but the leads are great and so is the chemistry.
Gatao the Last Stray is streaming on Netflix.