Saturday, October 15, 2005

One Night In Monkok

The Tartan Asia Season has blessed us again this year with another 6 movies showing in UGC cinemas (now called CineWorld Cinemas for some reason) up and down the UK.

I went to see One Night In Mongkok last night (Thursday) and although it was a fairly standard Hong Kong cop-drama it didn't disappoint. Mongkok (in Hong Kong) is apparently the most densely populated part of the world, and serves as a claustrophobic backdrop to a neat gangster thriller. You can get a visual feel for the place and the film by having a look at the pictures here - especially the crowded streets in the top and bottom pictures.

The plot? Well, poor Lai Fu (played by Daniel Wu) is hired as a (first time) hitman to wreak vengeance on the missing gangland boss Carl, after his underling Franky accidently kills rival boss Tim's son in a car chase. Lai Fu comes to Hong Kong, hired at Tim's request by Liu, a greedy con-man with far too many mobile phones. The cops get word of the hit, arrest Liu and force him to lead them to Lai Fu. After rescuing Dan Dan, a hooker (played by the beautiful Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi) from a beating, Lai Fu and Dan Dan inadvertently end up helping each other out in turn for the rest of the film. Throw in some fairly graphic violence, some beautiful interplay and comedic moments between Lai Fu and Dan Dan (I dare you not to love her), and you end up with a film definitely worth watching. The overall feel is dark and depressing with the only glimmers of hope being the developing relationship between Lai Fu and Dan Dan and their salvation from the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe not one of the all-time greats but very enjoyable nonetheless, and one which works more at the character and emotional level than by relying on effects and fight scenes. Note to self - I have to stop empathising so much ;-)

One of my beefs about modern films is that with all the cgi and digital effects, you end up not caring enough about the characters. They are rarely in any danger because of the old blue screen compositing electric trickery or a digital stunt double. Here though, the action is portrayed with frank realism, and is somewhat uncomfortable in places, but all the lead characters are developed to the point where you really do care what happens to them.

If you want a more in-depth appraisal of the film then hop on over to www.lovehkfilm.com
For more information on other films in this year's Tartan season visit www.asiaextreme.co.uk or your local UGC cinema guide.

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