Director: Joe Ma
Cast: Eason Chan, Charlene Choi, Kenneth Tsang, Kai-Chi Liu, Pauline Yam
Joe Ma is a prolific filmmaker in Hong Kong. In the past few years, he has participated in many films projects including the partnership with promising new director Wilson Yip in the highly acclaimed Bullets Over Summer and Juliet in Love. Other of his popular films include Dummy Mommy, Without a Baby and Love Undercover.
In Hong Kong, some people like to compare Joe Ma with Wong Jing and criticize most of his idols-based comedies severely. I believe this accusation is too harsh. In my opinions, Ma is a way more honest and enthusiastic filmmaker, he truly loves the craft of filmmaking, and it can be proved by the release of Funeral March, a serious drama that is totally different from his light-hearted comedies.
Angie (Charlene Choi), the daughter of a rich businessman, is young and charming. One day, she discovers that she has cancer. She is filled with despair and she begins to prepare for her own funeral with a funeral director (Eason Chan). Influenced by the optimistic funeral director, she finally figures out the value of life and decides to resume her medical treatment. However, after she has recovered, she finds out a dark secret about the funeral director...
The subject of Funeral March is the meaning of life. How should one face the threat of death? It is the issue Ma wants to survey on through this film. It provides an invaluable lesson to those who are trying to give up their life. Although the thematic element is about death and Ma has created a very depressed atmosphere for the film, the subject matter is actually explored in a very positive manner. The message is very clear - Death is not that horrible after all. It is only a mandatory stage of life that nobody can change. Either we face it in a positive or negative attitude, the outcome will always remain the same. Why don't we think positively and enjoy our life til the last moment then?
To be honest, I think this film would be a bigger achievement if Joe Ma were able to cast some good actors. By that I don't mean Eason Chan and Charlene Choi suck. It is just that Eason Chan and Charlene Choi are popular singers in Hong Kong, they are not professional actors at all. Nevertheless, they still manage to play their roles well or at least make the roles persuasive. Together with brilliant performance by veteran actors like Kenneth Tsang and Kai-chi Liu, the cast is pretty well picked.
The cinematography of this film is fabulous. It is more elegant and composed than many other Hong Kong films. The quiet graveyard, the somber funeral hall, the tranquil New York settings, everything appears so beautiful and unforgetable to the viewers. In fact, I haven't seen anything like that coming out from Hong Kong for a long time.
Unlike many hilarius and meaningless films, Funeral March is not too entertaining. Having said that, I don't mean you should avoid it. On the contrary, I believe it is one of the few Hong Kong films produced in 2001 that is able to touch upon the subject matter seriously and contains certain meanings that requires the audience to introspect.
VCD (HK version) - I don't have much to comment on the VCD. All I can say is, get the DVD if possible. With the beautiful cinematography and meaningful story, you won't be disappointed for sure.
Reviewed by: Kantorates