Hollywood Hong Kong
Director: Fruit Chan
Cast: Zhou Xun, Glen Chin, Wong You-Nam, Ho Sai-Man
(Possible spoiler below)
I always have mixed feeling about Fruit Chan's movies. While I like the raw quality of Made in Hong Kong, the blatant documentary approach in Durian Durian hasn't much appeal for me. Perhaps I had really bad experience with Chan's previous work Durian Durian, I didn't have any expectation before I watched Hollywood Hong Kong, and that's why I found it more interesting and entertaining than I thought.
This movie features a fruitful plot, the boss of a roast pork shop and his two sons are attracted by a Shanghaiese girl, while a young pimp Wong has also developed some kind of sexual relationship with a prostitute from Shanghai. The two girls are in fact one single person who is a crook. Before the pork family and Wong know the truth, Wong gets his right arm chopped off. He wants to seek revenge. However, it is too late since the girl has already fled... The story is quite absurd and it contains some elements of black humor. Although this movie cannot be considered as mainsteam or commerical and it does not have an all star cast, it still provides a highly engaging viewing experience.
Because I have only watched the VCD version which does not contain the "making of" documentary and the interview with the director as the DVD version carries, I couldn't really tell what exactly all the characters and events symbolize, or is there any metophorical meaning behind, yet I did have some observations myself, but it might not be what director Fruit Chan intended to bring about. So here below is my subjective speculations of what Chan wanted to say...
To most people, the most remarkable aspect of the movie is probably the comparsion between the new and the old, that is, the skyscraper Plaza Hollywood and the shabby "Dai Hum Chuen" ( Sorry but I really don't know the official english name of this place). I agree the parallel is noteworthy, but it's definitely not the part that captures my attention most, to me, it seems that Chan wanted to make a reference of the Hong Kong filmmakers who always want to start a career in Hollywood. The character of the pimp (Wong You-Nam) is probably a genuine relfection of Hong Kong filmmakers. As he once says in the movie, "I want to go to Hollywood too!" He expresses his desire to break into Hollywood. The part about his sexual encounter with Zhou Xun, who is a representative of Hollyood as she lives in the skyscraper at Plaza Hollywood, can be viewed as the experience of some Hong Kong filmmakers who have made their ways to Hollywood. In the beginning, they feel so good and exciting. Later when Wong's arm is chopped off, he begins to realize that everything is a trap. It parallels to the fact that Hong Kong filmmakers find it hard to survive in Hollywood as their power is greatly limited. Everyone knows that the Hollywood system is very different from that in Hong Kong where directors are exceptionally autonomous. In Hollywood, it is always the movie company who is in charge of everything. For Hong Kong filmmakers, working in such a restricted environment is like having their hands dismantled, especially if you are talking about the right hand that you use to write and create. Chan poses a warning here, reminding his colleagues that Hollywood is not for everyone. If you want to survive there, you have to abide by the rules of the game and prepare the possible loss of your right hand (your directorial style)...
Director Fruit Chan always uses non-professional actors in his movies. Again, the male lead Glen Chin belongs to this group, and he did gain a nomination for best actor at the Golden Horse Award in Taiwan. This time, unlike most of his previous movies, Chan also employed a professional actor, mainland actress Zhou Xun, to play the role of the cunning girl from Shanghai. As the pivotal character of the movie, experienced actress Zhou's performance is extraordinary. It is no wonder why she is so popular in China now.
Hollywood Hong Kong is worth a look if you are looking for something that can genuinely reflect the local culture of Hong Kong. There is no glamorous stars in the movie, nor is there any climactic twists, nevertheless, the fruitful plot and the carefully planned compositions are eye catching and absolutely succeed in keeping the viewers engaged. As a side note, it is recommended that you get the DVD version since it contains valuable information, including cast and crew interviews and "making of" featurette, about the movie.
Reviewed by: Kantorates