Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:58 am 
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Neo Yau Hawk-sau is 3rd from left

Disturbing Orwellian tale of militaristic brainwashing in Hong Kong juvie

A NYAFF Main Competition film - from Hong Kong

After a bar brawl with an off-duty cop, aspiring thug Fan (eo Yau Hawk-sau, of Fire Lee's gonzo Robbery) is sentenced to three months in juvenile detention. The results are gruesome. This is an eerily oppressive tale about a crime gang leader driven to attempt suicide by his humiliation at the hands of prison guards. But according to an early review, first-time director Andrew Wong’s film ends up pulling its punches. See the review by Edmund Lee in South China Evening Post. Neo Yau Hawk-sau, who portrayed a wholesome schoolboy in She Remembers, He Forgets , plays a very different character in Fan, a cocky, aggressive young gang leader who’s convicted and sentenced to a detention centre after knowingly attacking an off-duty cop and then refusing to bow to an arriving officer, thus "resisting arrest." The cocky troublemaker is there swiftly destroyed by the sadistic guards, whose shocking brutality and humiliation of the young man lead him to attempt suicide on just his third day behind bars. An alternate viewpoint is provided because we also follow the unhappy liberal young guard, Ho (Kelvin Kwan Cho-yiu), whose lonely wife can't have a baby and complains of his many absences for work. He provides a little sympathy (along with several fellow inmates) for the shockingly grim prison life of Fan in this realistic if ultimately naive film, which unfortunately ends with a pat message of crime does not pay, when it should be questioning Hong Kong's brutal juvie. The center section of this film compares with the harshest and most intense of British or American juvenile prison movies, but young director Wong doesn't know how to frame his realistic material intelligently.

With Prisoners, 100 mins., released in Hong Kong Apr. 2017.

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