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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons


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Film Festival - Hong Kong Wrapup (Part I)

Geez, maybe I'll be finished these by the time the next Film Festival rolls around.

My Hong Kong experience at the FF started off with the somewhat disappointing Exodus with the usually great Simon Yam. Here he's once again a cop, but the slow and steady kind with a pretty average career on the force. When a conspiracy-theory sprouting weirdo he processes suddenly changes his story, he starts wondering why. Is there something really going on, or is he just finally losing it?

It's not a bad set-up, but the movie is so slow it never really pays off. Yam's character is so stony-faced that it doesn't even work as a character study. It looked great however, in the Q&A one person noted that he'd never seen Hong Kong look like this before, apparently the director got the permission (and the required cash) to film in locations previously inaccessible.

The most telling remark was a comment by the director on the opening scene of the film, where a bunch of cops are beating up a suspect while this giant picture of Queen Elizabeth looks on. The picture places the scene before the handover to China, which was required because you're not allowed to show cops in today's Hong Kong beating people up. It doesn't happen. After another question about recent politics, he asked anyone recording this for YouTube it not show his answers to the last few questions as he doesn't want to get in trouble.

Wilson Tip's Flash Point, with Donnie Yen, was again clearly set pre-1997 for the same reasons, only Yip put together a much better movie. The plot is nothing to write home about (two cops, one undercover, vicious gang, family members hurt, final showdown) but the fight scenes were amazing, and the final confrontation almost gives you whiplash. It was just the sort of movie to see with a Midnight Madness crowd. There was also the greatest moment of black comedy I've seen in a while, involving a bomb in a turkey and the problems of getting wireless reception in a stairwell.

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