I'm no connoisseur of Asian action films, so drawing any comparisons to staples of the genre would be a stretch on my part. However, judging by my experience with Americanized films that Chinese and Japanese directors are famous for, Exiled is very nearly a modern work of art.

My laziness is well-established, so given the choice between a Cantonese soundtrack with subtitles and an English dub, I'm taking my native tongue. Unfortunately, the voiceover actors leave something to be desired. Visually, however, the acting appears top-notch.

One member of a crime syndicate is on the outs, so members of his gang show up to off him. After a violent exchange in his house and no deaths to show for it, the longtime friends discuss his future over a meal. He asks the men for one last score to secure the finances of his wife and child. They agree, but while executing the plan, all hell breaks loose, and all five men become entangled in multiple shootouts with thugs, crime bosses and police.

In each vividly violent encounter, the five protagonists swirl fluidly around the screen, interacting beautifully with their surroundings. Conspicuously absent are the obvious martial arts moves of American household names Jet Li and Jackie Chan. In their place are more emotional moments in which characters must decide what honor means to them.

Because of a disorienting opening and hokey voice work, this may not be a hit with mainstream fans, but those seeking an introduction to Asian action films could find a lot to enjoy.

These videos courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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