In Chinese & Portuguese (with Chinese & English subtitles)
Director: Nelson Yu Lik-wai
Cast: Jo Odagiri, Anthony Wong, Huang Yi, Milhem
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: M18 (Violence)
Opening Day: 23 July 2009
Leung is a merciless leader feared by many. Along with his
protégé Kylin, they rule the largest piracy
syndicate in South America. Buying off corrupted government
officials, Leung has been able to rule the piracy underworld
for the past 20 years.
times are going to take a rapid turn for the worst.
by old comrade, Leung’s empire comes stumbling down
before he could figure what happened. In a surprising turn,
Leung chooses seclusion instead of vengeance. Unable to come
to terms, Kylin decides to take vengeance into his own hands
and summons a clan of young soldiers. A bloody gang war is
about to rage the streets…
City could either be viewed as one of those artistic extravagant
films that tickle your intellect sense or another piece of
arty farty flick for the pompous self indulgence folks. Either
ways, it’s unlikely that it will please the taste of
the masses and it’s likely to give some film lovers
something to contemplate on or making an attempt to figure
out how to appreciate this movie.
One of the most notable elements of this film would be that
it is fronted by two rather well known Asian actors. There’s
the famous Hong Kong veteran actor Anthony Wong and the cool
Japan actor Jo Odagiri (who was last seen in Azumi and Shinobi
Heart Under Blade) joining forces to participate in this movie
project in Brazil. A seemly brave if not experimental move
in expanding their acting repertoire by branching out of their
usual comfort zone and work with unfamiliar language, setting,
cast and crew.
While kudos should be given to their brave attempt, their
effort in this production felt rather hollow. While I can’t
tell how well was their Portuguese (as I’m not that
familiar with that language), it did sound like they were
struggling to speak in that language and it felt that it was
affecting their acting performance in certain ways. Jo Odagiri’s
Mandarin definitely felt rather force to native Mandarin speakers
and in a way, a constant distraction from believing in the
character that Jo Odagiri was trying to portray.
Besides the language distractions, this film also does not
spell out a lot of things that going on in this movie, leaving
the audience with many “fill in the blanks” moments.
On one hand, it’s cultivating the audience to be more
aggressive in movie watching but on the other, it could be
a trying time and alienating time. Personally, even after
figuring out what went on in the last act, it’s still
rather hard to relate to the emotions that went on in the
However there are a couple redeemable factors in this movie.
In a way, it was an intriguing case study of how the mighty
could crumble. Even as a leader of a piracy syndicate, one
must contend with new threats, work with shady politicians
and various authorities. It make one wonder how much power
does one actually have while being the top of his organization
or is he just another fish in the pond who is wrestling for
survival like everyone else. Plastic City also painted a sad
but frighteningly true scenario that in this type of life,
when one become utterly helpless, the only thing that one
could do would be to choose how to end his or her life.
Plastic City also spent a great deal of time and effort in
the cinematography, resulting in some rather innovative and
groovy interior shots that would look good in home decoration
infomercial. Through the lens, the slums of Brazil also look
gloried and even scenic to a certain degree.
Plastic City is basically felt like plastic itself itself.
It might be a beautiful looking product that made up with
various chemical elements but essentially, it’s a lifeless
product that’s not a natural origin.
(Beautiful to look at but ultimately lifeless and
Review by Richard Lim Jr