Category Archives: 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

A Story of Yonosuke 横道世之介 / 那年遇上世之介 (2013) – Japan

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 24th June 2013

Director: Shuichi Okita
Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (novel), Shiro Maeda
Starring: Kengo Kora, Yuriko Yoshitaka

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013
Film Distributed by Golden Scene and Panorama Films

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“A Story for Yonosuke” simply works because it never tries to be more than it is meant to be. The tale of a young and cheerful man going through college and experience life along the way is nothing new, but somehow the film manages to be fresh, simple and even ordinary and all in a good way. Running at an epic 160 minutes, the opening sequences seem a tad longer than it should be, but once the audience is hooked, they are unlikely to be able to detach in one way or another. Sometimes in the midst of such a complicated world, this kind of simplicity is exactly what we need and “A Story of Yonosuke” gives out that feeling and that’s perhaps all we ever wanted.

Kengo Kora is simply magnetic as the coming of age young man learning about love, life and reality all the space of living away from home and in college. From the moment you see his character stumble across on screen; you know he is not ready to face the impending world. However, with a bit of luck and combining with a cheerful outlook, Yonosuke (Kora) not only survives, but even manages to experience what life and growing up is really about. Kora’s unique ability to be genuinely simple and cheerful is extremely endearing to watch. He is perfectly aided by the ever wonderful Yuriko Yoshitaka who is easily a dream girl for any college guy. Rich, smart, funny and incredibly beautiful, however like most guys at that age (as we have all grown up and realized); they don’t know what they are doing. Kora and Yoshitaka have wonderful underlying chemistry and carries the film through to its most genuine emotions.

All in all, “A Story for Yonosuke” is simply about an ordinary young man whose cheerful outlook inspires many of those that he encounters, whether as a friend, lover or even a by passer. It is this unique character that allows the audience to reflect upon that own lives of how these kind people is every bit special and thinking of them either bring yourself to a smile or reminiscent how much better and livelier they once made your life. Maybe Yonosuke is your friend; someone in your group, former lover or even yourself, just the fact that they exists makes the world a better place. While it is true that the film doesn’t try to say much, but in 160 minutes of running time, it is not an easy feat when the audience remains glue to the screen for most of it. Essentially, a film that touches upon your most simplest of emotions… (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8/10

HKIFF Review: The Way We Dance 狂舞派 (2013) – 香港 (中文翻譯 – 晏晏)

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Translated by: Kristy Leung
Original Review Date: 10th April 2013
Translation Date: 1 June 2013

Directed by: Adam Wong 黃修平
Starring: Cherry Ngan 顏卓靈, Babyjohn 蔡瀚億, Lokman, Tommy Guns, Paul Wong 黃貫中, Janice Fan
Releasing in Hong Kong: July 2013

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

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以舞蹈為主的電影從來不是什麼新鮮題材,特別是港產片,很多都質素參差、內容情節毫無二致。然而,《狂舞派》卻成功突破了一貫的舞蹈電影,改善了不少弊處,別有新鮮感。這在舞蹈電影類別中是很有看頭的一部戲,是同類電影中的楷模,可以啟發以後的舞蹈一山。

導演黃修平成功帶領了一堆新演員演戲。擔任主角的顏卓靈雖然是新人,缺乏成熟的演出經驗,但她的演技在電影中仍能有所發揮,並得到觀眾認同。蔡瀚億從一個舞台劇演員過渡成為電影演員,在《狂舞派》中幾乎是電影中最大的亮眼點。他的演出自然生動, 各個動作表情都能掀起觀眾的笑點,讓我不得不聯想到像周星馳那樣令人深刻的鬼馬演出。除了這些主演,其他演員也有自己的獨特性。LOKMAN很有可塑性,演出也不錯,可是很可惜,他常常被其他更好的演員掩蓋了自己的光采,他只能夠加倍努力爭取。JANICE FAN與顏卓靈一樣是新人,在電影中有時候發揮得沒有很好,但總括而言也可看出她的努力,在某幾個情節上仍然算是不錯的。而TOMMY GUNS給我最深的印象算是他在舞台上跳舞的時候,他的舞蹈水平甚高,在舞台上極有魅力。

總的來說,我很高興黃修平能夠再次執導並完成了這部電影《狂舞派》,經過多年前的準備、拍攝,現在終於上映。在他執導的電影中,我們可以看見真正有香港特色的電影,保留了最真實的一面,內容情節火花不斷,讓觀眾帶笑有淚,也有啟發性。而《狂舞派》亦然。若說上年度最令人驚喜震撼的是《低俗喜劇》,那麼今年就是《狂舞派》了。 (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)

I rated it 8/10

HKIFF Review: Closed Curtain / Pardé – پرده 电影关不住 (2013) – Iran

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 18th April 2013

Directed by: Jafar Panahi, Kambuzia Partovi
Starring: Kambuzia Partovi, Maryam Moqadam, Jafar Panahi

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

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Closing Film for the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

There is a lot of expectation and anticipation going into the critically acclaimed “CLOSED CURTAIN”. When you add the novelty of being the closing film of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013 and a full house cinema, everything is essentially skyrocketed. However, “CLOSED CURTAIN” not only disappoint, but is rarely engaging, borderline snooze like and ultimately insignificant. I am a big fan of slow burn and art house cinema, but this film goes too far and the result is an extremely personal film for banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, that can hardly relate to the audience.

Kambuzia Partovi flairs well as lead actor and taking up the majority of the screen time. His Gandi like appearance helps the film retain attention and even a good 40 minutes as the audience questions and reflect on what he can possibly be doing. However, the moment Kambuzia Partovi is off the screen, the film falters and eventually fails, as the core and purpose of watching the film seems to be gone. When the best thing in the film is the pouting cute antics of the dog, you know the film lacks character and strength. Sometimes, being different and slow doesn’t exactly converts to art house and “CLOSED CURTAIN” feels far too unimportant and uninvolving.

All in all, “CLOSED CURTAIN” is easily one of the most over-hyped film of the festival and definitely unworthy of being a closing film. Sure, there may be obvious hints and notions of messages about the Iranian government, but a message alone does not make a movie. In fact, by the time the old man appears on screen again in the final moments, the audience just cannot wait for the film to finish as the directors Jafar Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi again indulge into their own slowness without reason. I wouldn’t call this a bad film by all means, but one thing is definite, it will never be worthy of its critical acclaimed. Shoot me all you like, this “CLOSED CURTAIN” just isn’t my cup of tea. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 5/10

HKIFF Review: The Way We Dance 狂舞派 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 10th April 2013

Directed by: Adam Wong 黃修平
Starring: Cherry Ngan 顏卓靈, Babyjohn 蔡瀚億, Lokman, Tommy Guns, Paul Wong 黃貫中, Janice Fan
Releasing in Hong Kong: July 2013

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Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

Hong Kong cinema needed a boost and “THE WAY WE DANCE” delivers something different, alternative and genuinely entertaining. Filming dance moves and hip hop is nothing new to Hong Kong cinema, while the past dance productions lack quality production values, sharp direction and consistently engagement factors. “THE WAY WE DANCE” makes no such mistakes and the result is a highly effective and polish film that is likely to engulf and inspire.

Starring a bunch of newcomers, director Adam Wong (“MAGIC BOY”) does extremely well in focusing on the strength of the actors. Cherry Ngan 顏卓靈 takes on the lead role and despite clearly raw and inexperience is able to grow into the character and by the end of the film even manages to convinces the audience. Babyjohn 蔡瀚億 is probably the highlight of the show, whose presence reminded me of a comic timing and natural presence that Stephen Chow had mastered. Every movement, gesture and looks drew a bunch of laughter. Formerly a stage actor, Babyjohn had made the most of his transition to the big screen. Most definitely an actor to watch out for. Lokman tries hard, but is constantly over shadowed by his more natural co-stars. Tommy Guns is inspirationally in a stunning scene where he dance on a second leg. While Janice Fan who plays glamour girl Rebecca is uneven at times, but like Cherry Ngan there is an airiness of rawness in her acting, where she can certainly work on. Still, she made most of her role, which can easily be over reacted or corny.

All in all, “THE WAY WE DANCE” is a warm welcome back for director Adam Wong, who previously made the highly underrated and effective “MAGIC BOY”. It is wonderful to see a true local Hong Kong production succeeds and like the years that it took to finally get the film on screen, the film works because it stays true to its source, it aims to inspire and it succeeds with some flashy fireworks. This is a good film with a bunch of newcomers having fun and taking the audience along the ride by engulfing and engaging them in the process. If last year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival gave us “VUGARIA”, this year’s surprise comes in the form of “THE WAY WE DANCE”. Stay tune for the mainstream release in July 2013. (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)

I rated it 8/10

HKIFF Review: Saving General Yang 忠烈楊家將 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 9th April 2013

Directed by: Ronny Yu
Starring: Ekin Cheng, Vic Chou, Xu Fan, Yu Bo, Raymond Lam, Wu Chun and Adam Cheng
In cinemas around Australia and Hong Kong on 4th April 2013.

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

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The issue with Ronny Yu’s latest action blockbuster epic “SAVING GENERAL YANG”, is that there are far too many people, a clear lack of focus and an inability to maintain the audience’s attention span. With all the pretty boys poster, the film will definitely attract a full house teenager girls audience, but for action fans and even Ronny Yu’s fans expecting another “FEARLESS” or “BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR”, “SAVING GENERAL YANG” is nothing like the aforementioned films and more likely alluded to “FREDDY VS JASON”. Assembling a cast of Ekin Cheng, Vic Chou, Xu Fan, Yu Bo, Raymond Lam, Wu Chun and Adam Cheng is not easy and directing them all in one movie is even harder. When the best thing are the cheers you hear from the noisy teenager girls quadrant in the audience, where each male character are being introduced, you know that this film is far more promotional art than actual cinema. I am not sure, what made director Ronny Yu take the film on board, but whatever it is, this is Yu’s worst film and for god sake, even “FREDDY VS JASON” is better entertainment. It is this bad.

I am not going to go into the detail with each characters or actors, as none of them came through with a performance, but rather like shooting a commercial with zero character and almost impossible to identify . Everyone just seems to appear here and there in random spaces, only to collect a big hefty pay check, before leaving the set for other venture. Veteran Adam Cheng’s probably comes of best, as most long time cinema fans, eagerly awaits his presence on the big screen for a long time. He is probably the only character that comes off somewhat interesting within the midst of mess that Yu presents to us.

All in all, words cannot describe how bad, incoherent and irrelevant “SAVING GENERAL YANG” really is. The world is full of bad cinema, but there are films that knows they are bad and somehow manages to entertain by being unintentionally funny. However, there is no such saving grace in this movie. The real issues are not just Ronny Yu’s poor direction, but rather from top to bottom, script to editing, Ekin Cheng to Vic Chou and pretty much everyone involved, except for the adequate period costume designers. Perhaps, the film is better of as a pure commercial, selling hot boys and Adam Cheng. I feel like I have ramble more than enough, but sometimes, you just have to get it out. My sincere apology, if I offend anyone, but let’s hope next time, for everyone’s involved they all make better movies. (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)

I rated 1/10