There seems to be something about Asian cinama that makes it stand out form the rest of the world. They produce films that can mentally grab the viewer and fill your eyes and ears with powerfully stimulating art. Well, thats how i see it anyway and I found this to be the case when i saw Hong Kong 1941. Being a massive fan of both Asian film and Chow Yun-Fat, I decided to give this a go. It follows the story of two guys and a women who have the dream of escaping hong kong in search for wealth, only to be stoped by the invasion by the Japanese. What follows is the brutally of war and the occasional beauty of life. All three main actors do especially well and credit has to be given to the directer Po Chih Leong and the cinematographer. The DVD is also a quality production featuring an interveiw with Chow Yun-Fat along with a detailed commentary by Bey Logan. Well recommended to hong kong cinama lovers.
Definitely an underrated film. I bough it because I was curious about historical hong kong movies and it really surprised me. Despite having a low budged the story is well carried and the actors are fantastic, specially Chow Yun-Fat in his youngish appearance. If you like Hong Kong cinema in general, not only kung fu, it is quite a purchase.
For me this is a lame attempt at portraying the fall of Hong Kong to the Japanese in 1941 both as a medium of entertainment and as an educational tool.The Japanese are virtually non existent throughout the film and yet still manage to occupy Hong Kong without a shot being fired.The British are represented by a handful of extras wearing ill fitting army surplus gear and the resistance is virtually invisible.If we are to believe in the characters at all then surely the events unfolding around them should be convincing. The drama aspect of this film fails largely due to the overblown and almost farcical acting with unnecessary hand gestures permeating the whole film.The characters are in the main superficial with only Chow Yun Fat's portrayal of Yip Kim Fay showing any real depth.Maybe its lost on me but I just didn't see the point in the character Nam having an illness it gave nothing to the story and only encouraged her bouts of nauseating hysteria. There are a couple of moments of Japanese brutality and even this fell flat lacking any real menace or horror.The fight scene near the end where the Japanese officer has a chicken thrown at him made me laugh so hard I almost wet myself. The technical aspects of the film apart from the score(jolly music played over a tense scene)were at least half decent with the highlights being the cinematography and the camera work.The DVD package is from the Hong Kong Legends stable and is top rate with bags of extras(as if you need any more punishment)and with options for the audio track which is available in either a dubbed English version or in its original language with poorly translated subtitles.
This is a poor movie and I'm surprised that it received a best cinematography award. The story is potentially a good one, but the development of plot is shallow, the direction is scrappy and the continuity awful. The potential is not realised because the personal drama of the main characters is let down by the almost farcical depiction of the events surrounding them. This leads to an ultimately disappointing film experience from both the dramatic and historical perspectives. Cecilia Yip-tong's frequent displays of hysteria are just plain irritating and it seems she is too lightweight for her character. The attempt to recreate Hong Kong in 1941 is a dismal failure. The portrayal of the different factions is superficial and highly stereotyped, almost to the point of caricature.
The British are grotesquely characterised by a few actors in ill-fitting costumes. The attempt to show the fall of Hong Kong to the Japanese is a complete anti-climax and almost laughable. Half a dozen "British" soldiers and one Indian scamper about in anachronistic jungle green denims and over-sized badge-less berets (no tin hats, shorts or '37 pattern webbing here!) then re-appear as wounded POWs. There are no aircraft. The presence of a SWB Police Landrover jars as do the occasional glimpses of TV aerials on the rooftops.
The presence of Chow Yun-fat almost redeems the film but it is a poor vehicle for his style of acting, being firmly rooted in the local slapstick genre which is completely at odds with the attempted subject matter. The definitive Hong Kong 1941 movie remains to be made.