Director: Sammo Hung, Ann Hui, Patrick Tam, Yuen Wo Ping, Johnnie To, Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark
Cast: Timmy Hung, Francis Ng, Sire Ma, Jennifer Yu, Gouw Ian Iskandar, Yuen Wah, Ashley Lam, Ng Wing Sze, Wu Tsz Tung, Eric Tsui, Simon Yam, Mimi Kung, Royce Lam, Chung King Fai, Cheung Tat Ming, Emotion Cheung, Lam Suet, Lawrence Lau
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Released By: Clover Films and Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 7 July 2022
Synopsis: Seven of Hong Kong’s most revered directors with distinctly unique styles come together for the first time to compose a symphony of stories for their city from the 50s to the future.
It’s not everyday you get seven of Hong Kong’s most prolific directors coming together to work on an anthology film. We’re not talking about any average filmmaker here. The legends of Hong Kongcinema have gathered to present a magnificent lineup of seven standalone stories that are self contained and spans from the 1950s to the present and even the future. This should be good enough a reason for cinephiles to watch the 113 minute feature, and enticing enough to catch the attention of international film distributors.
Each segment presents a perspective of Hong Kong, regardless of whether it’s a fond memory of the past, a biting statement of the present, or a hilarious but possible prediction of the future. The stories explore several themes, ranging from inter generation bonds and nostalgia, to painful breakups and happy reunions.
First up is Sammo Hung's "Exercise", where we see how things were run in a martial arts school in the 1950s. It is a Hung’s memory of how obedience and discipline were of utmost importance during his training days. It is a delight to see the students go through a beautiful routine of handstands, back flips and aerial kicks, and how mischief gets in the way.
Next up is Ann Hui’s sentimental “Headmaster”, where a group of friends (headed by Francis Ng) reminisce their childhood memories at an elementary school in the 1960s. It is a tale of how educators play a large part in our lives, and how their teachings and silent guidance only come to light when we are grown up.
In Patrick Tam’s “Tender is the Night”, things get romantic as a teenage couple faces an obstacle in their relationship when the girl’s family has to move overseas. Told in a somewhat unconventional manner, this segment is seemingly straightforward but deals with the differing attitudes towards breakups.
Yuen Wo Ping directs the very accessible “Homecoming”, where a teenage girl has to temporarily live with her grandfather (Yuen Wah). As expected, comedy ensues as the two try to adapt to each other’s lifestyles. No prizes for guessing who eats healthily and who is a fan of fast food. And to no one’s surprise, an affectionate bond is built between the granddaughter and grandfather.
Johnnie To, the brainchild behind this project, presents a talky segment where three friends meet in a cha chaan ting (Hong Kong café) to share views about how to make a fortune during the dot com boom and surviving the economic downturn during the SARS crisis. There is much to read into as the three individuals chat over tea.
Ringo Lam, who is known for his action films, directed “Astray” before passing on in 2018. Surprisingly bittersweet, it stars Simon Yam as a father who is returning to a city he has very fond memories of. He is not used to how it is now filled with a bustling crowd, honking cars and cold buildings. The melancholy is in full force as the character meets an unexpected tragedy.
Tsui Hark closes the film with “Conversation in Depth”, a hilarious segment set in a mental hospital where things are not what they seem. The patient and the doctor square off in a battle of words and things get outrageously whimsical in this story set in the near future. It is an apt conclusion to the tribute to Hong Kongwith its thoughtful takeaways and utterly entertaining approach.
(The impressive lineup of directors is enough of a reason for you to catch this heartfelt tribute to Hong Kong)
Review by John Li