IN MONGKOK (2004-HK)
review by Neo
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The latest movie from talented director, Derek Yee is a dark, bleak, and somewhat balanced portrayal of the darkness of both gangsters and cops and the person who is struck in the middle of the conflict. A Nite in MongKok is a suitable title for the movie and is without doubt a movie that attempts to depict the struggle, darkness and unglorified life of both triads and cops. This movie rises numerous of questions about what is the truth and the assumed good guys –the police who are trying to catch a supposed killer and the consequences of that assumption can result in deadly consequences. Director Yee depict the bleak and dark lives with menacing camera work and a terrific blend of film noir (black and white) sequences in the final scenes and fully enhance the portrayal of how bleak and dark the streets of Mong Kok are. Starring newly crowned best actress, Cecilia Cheung, and the stoic Daniel Wu, both carries the film extremely well, along with a good supporting cast, with Alex Fong impressing me for the first time, scene stealing Chin Kar-Lok and a well portrayed coward in Lam Suet. A Nite in MongKok is definitely a movie that will leaves the audience grasping for answers and a bleak look into Mongkok nightlife and the questioning of what is the truth, what distinguish good and bad in this world.
The story may sounds quite simple and the message can even have some resemblance to Donnie Yen’s Ballistic Kiss, but Yee direction is a step more superior as he has a huge budget and quality cast to work with. The movie may have some borrowed bits, but is still strikingly original with subplots and romance carrying the main plot along the way leading to the bleak and dark ending. The story begins with Roy (Daniel Wu) came to Hong Kong from the mainland China to find his girlfriend, but he is cheated to be a killer, so he comes a fugitive. He encounters Dan (Cecilia Cheung), a prostitute, whom wants to earn money from him at the beginning. As they know each other more, they start to grow empathized feeling toward the other. With Dan being pursuit by both triads and cops and betrayed by Lam Suet, Dan has no where to go.
The performance of this movie, must be Cecilia Cheung, who performance in a much layered performance that requires her to switch from being a prostitute to a sympathetic person with a heart. Her anguish and shocked sequences and desperation are terrifically realistic and strikingly vivid. She is without doubt one of the contender for 2005 HK Films Best Actress. With each movie goes by, Cecilia Cheung movie selection is prime and is showcasing her ability to her true potential. Although her performance may not surpass her Lost in Time performance as she is not the focus character here, it is without at least equal to it. Cecilia overshadows, the stoic Daniel Wu, but his performance is most likely his best out of his short career so far. It attempts to show some potential and despite being stoic, his portrayal is somewhat adequate, but a few more emotional range into his character will give him a much more layered performance. However the one that impressed me for the first time is Alex Fong (Astonishing) has lifted his performance to the next level and trying desperately hard to take off his TVB style of acting. His performance is good and put in a most likely best in his long veteran career. A scene stealer must be Chin Kar Lok who comedic appearance is not take with him as he put in a more than required of his role.
A Nite in MongKok is not a conventional movie, but one that the director dares not to just stick to formulas and manages to raises numerous unanswered questions about police and triad. Who is a good person, are police even good people. Corruption will continue to swamp police department as they kill a people they did not intended to and were willing to change the story around. Yee is clever and provoking to highlights the problems within the police itself and the way they approach and treat so-called criminals. Then again, Yee also questions about the triads and show the way he portray them is cold blooded and cruel and in a sense, it makes the police actions against them fully justified. Then it comes to Daniel Wu character who is caught in the middle of the line of fire as a wrongfully accused killer, who the police are trying to catch. It raises the question of whether he is a good or bad guy and whether or not the police chasing him is a good or bad thing. Will the consequences not occurred if the police did not chase him in the first place? All these questions will remain unanswered but Yee definitely the night life of Mong Kok as dark and the world is unfair.
Overall, A Nite in MongKok is not a movie for people not willing to question the truth of this world and is not one that will please everyone. But it is a movie that will force the viewers to think and the more they think, the more confused they will be as the film does not answers the questions. Then again, life is uncertain, and life is unfair and the dark and bleak portrayal no matter how accurate, it is truly Yee’s honest opinion and his vision of what the streets are like. It does further enhances Donnie Yen’s Ballistic Kiss underlying message of ‘no one is innocent’ but it does goes a step further with this movie. One thing is certain though, A Nite in MongKok will not be one of those movie that will leave you with a smile but in fact leaving the audience with a sense of regret and opening up their minds to the outer world, that nothing is certain nor fair. If you ask me, Yee’s A Nite in MongKok is not a perfect movie or even have the ingredients to be one, but it is one of the best movie of the year so far and one that truly will leave you grasping for answers. On a final note, I love it!
I rate it 10/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Product Title : A Nite in MongKok
Artist Name(s) : Cecilia Cheung | Daniel Wu | Alex Fong| Chin Kar Lok
Language : Cantonese, Mandarin
Duration : 105 minutes
Reviewed by Neo (Andrew) - May 2004