Made in Hong Kong (1997)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon 8/27/2023
Reviewed by Simon on 2023-08-27

An unemployed high school dropout tries to avoid sliding into the Triad lifestyle, but what other option is there for someone in his position?

This was one of my blind spots, I've heard people sing its praises for 20+ years but never really knew what sort of film it is, so I never knew if I was in the mood for it or not.

So what sort of film is it? Well, for one thing it's one of those films that seems to make time run at half speed. First time I checked to see if it was near the end, it was barely 30 minutes in. It's not necessarily that it's boring, but it is certainly not action-packed.

Stylistically there are shades of Wong Kar-Wai, but without Wong's hopeless romanticism. Thematically it is closer to Dangerous Encounters Of The First Kind - a connection explicitly established by a trip to a cemetery (the same cemetery?) being one of the most memorable scenes in both films.

Fruit Chan delivers a far more apathetic vision of Hong Kong's disaffected youth than Tsui Hark though. The 1997 handover is the obvious elephant in the room, and the feelings of abandonment and hopelessness expressed by the characters clearly reflects their environment.

It's hard to view Sam Lee as the first-time actor he was, since he rapidly became something of a star on the back of this impressive debut. I'm not sure why the same isn't true of co-star Yim Hui-Chi, who only made one more film.

The pace does pick up towards the end as threads start to converge, but there is no redemption or reversal of fortune waiting for our heroes in the end... ultimately they're just too small to make much of a difference.


Assistant Director
Art Director
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See also