At first I thought Life without Principle was just another entry in the overworked genre of films in which a number of unrelated characters are brought together by a common incident (i.e. Amores Perros, Crash, insert your favorite). But this underrated entry has a special bite to it because it is also a critique of the current financial downturn. The three main characters are a cop whose wife is pressuring him to fork out money for a better apartment, an amiable small-time gangster who tries to please his boss and everyone else he deals with, and, most notably, an investment banker, Teresa Chan (Denise Ho).
Chan is in trouble. Not only is the world economy collapsing, but she is underperforming in comparison with her colleagues. If she doesn’t sell more product — financial investments being pushed by the bank for which she works — she will soon be out of a job. One day one of her clients, a sleazy loan shark, leaves $1 million in cash in her office for safekeeping, and then goes downstairs, where he is murdered in the parking lot. What should Chan do about that million dollars in cash that no one but her knows exists? Hmmm. What I like most about Life without Principle is that it makes the point that there is only a fine line between gangsters and banksters.