Made in Hong Kong (1997)



I caught this film at Montreal's festival of new film last week, & thought it was brilliant. I greatly admired Fruit Chan's story (he wrote the script, as well as directing) and thought he presented it with positively gruelling emotional intensity.

Instead of the "teen angst" flick which I'd been expecting (an adult's comfortable distance away from the agony), MIHK, a film about the lives and deaths of a trio of teen outcasts, is suffused with grief and rage. I found even the wistful depiction of cavorting ghosts poignant, but what I most appreciated was the unblinking realism in the film before the finale.

I thought Moon's relationships with Ping, and the mothers, were very sensitively drawn. By contrast, I thought the male-male dynamics were written with less honesty -- in fact, aside from Moon's relationship with Stallone, they mostly seemed to be fantasies of violence (driving off the loan shark, killing the evil triad boss, killing the abusive dad in the toilet stall, killing the child-molesting loan shark). Of course, I cheered for all these events, but they seem out of place, given the depth of the rest of the film. I hope Fruit Chan gets a grip on this in his later movies. (Speaking of which, what *are his later movies? Has he done anything since? And has anyone seen his first film?)

Like other commentators, I was struck by the visuals of the unseen HK -- the crowded tenement buildings, the narrow horizon, the run-down streets. I found myself comparing MIHK to the Y&D series, much to the latter's detriment (tho' after all, they *are based on a manga), and chortled evilly with Moon when the knife vendor sneered ("Goo wat jai are petty criminals, they only steal from their mothers"). The realism was also evident in the depiction of the local bullies -- flabbily repulsive, in contrast to their demonic malevolence in (for example) SCHOOL ON FIRE. The whole sequence in which they torture 'Stallone', get chased down, and grovel abjectly to Moon and Keung was masterfully nausea-inducing ... whew!

So, like most others, I would highly recommend this film -- but it is definitely not for the weak of stomach. Think LORD OF THE FLIES, when you're deciding whether you're in the mood for this one or not.

From Hong Kong Movie DataBase