╗RĂU (1999)
Night Club


Reviewed by: David Harris
Date: 06/09/2000

Review courtesy of Hong Kong Superstars (www.hksmag.co.uk)

This film was only made and released last year but you wouldn't know that by looking at it as the whole style of the film is very retro. Whether it is intentional or not is another matter but the fact is that it looks old (in a bad way) !

The only recognisable faces (to me anyway) belong to Simon Yam as the night club "guardian" / manager and Cat III fave "Pinky" Cheung. Directed by Alan Lo who also serves as Executive Producer (his is I confess not a name I have heard of before) it is a tale of a night club (real shocker there) and it assorted patrons and "hostesses".

The rest of the cast are unlikely to be recognised by even the most ardent fan of Hong Kong cinema and not being cruel are unlikely ever to be (at least in some cases). The film itself has it moments - most of which occur when the ever reliable Simon Yam is on screen (it is notable that when his character isn't involved the whole thing takes a bit of a nosedive).

One of the films faults lies in the script which seeing as this film is an at least relatively low budget production is hardly a surprise (if this isn't a below average budget film even by Hong Kong standards I'd be pretty shocked). It touches a lot of areas that you'd expect a film of this ilk to (an obvious example is a storyline where one of the girls gets hassled by one of the more villainous gangsters) but doesn't provide the viewer with enough quirks to take the whole enterprise above the level of the ordinary.

It's not that the film is a complete turkey (films that plumb those depths often have a car crash-like quality to them that is strangely hypnotic) it's just that the actors hampered by a unimaginative script fail to "engage" you which is the kiss of death for any film even one with moderate aspirations. I'd love to have given this film a glowing review if only for the fact that Simon Yam is a personal favourite of mine but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

The films aforementioned retro look fools you at first (it has a cheesy quality that is quite fun for a while). Then it occurs to you that the style is as likely to be a result of budgetary or artistic limitations than by design (If I'm wrong I apologise to all concerned) and I found myself getting more critical.

Dramatic episodes occur and tragedy strikes at various intervals like you would expect but you find yourself not caring about the fate of the characters (this isn't meant to sound callous it's just a indication that the film itself isn't up to par). This comes from someone who is known to get "emotional" when watching films from time to time so don't think it's me being hard-hearted.

If you like gangster films (and I do) and you get the chance to watch it do and make up your own mind. Don't blame me though if you think it less than great as I have warned you !


Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Night Club (1999)

LO Shun-chuen and its counterpart Hoi Fung Film Productions Limited is active in the film industry despite the poor climate. After making 'Immortal Spirit', they have another production this year -- 'Night Club'. This time LO goes back to his favourite genre -- fact-based drama. The casting for the movie is average with Simon YAM Tat-wah, Ruby WONG Cheuk-ling and Pinky CHEUNG Man-chi.

As stated by by the title, this is a movie about a night club. Lai-wah (Ruby WONG Cheuk-ling) is the head of a group of club girls in a night club owned for many years by CHEUNG. Her best friend TONG Kei (CHAN Chi-ching) is going to retire soon but before she does, a new club girl, Linda (MAN Chung-han), joins the night club. Linda is a girl who is too open in her comments. In a nightclub, such a girl will bring herself trouble. Lai-wah is in charge of the club girls including the insubordinate Linda who always points out Lai-wah's weaknesses such as failing to take good care of her son Ka-ho. Lai Wah finds it hard to communicate with her son Ka-ho (KWAN Tak-fai), CHEUNG and Lai-wah have to face two difficult customers in the night club; Inspector Man and a bad-tempered Triad head Kao always cause chaos. One night, Kao takes his favourite Kei away and violates the rules of the night club by having sex without wearing a condom. In addition, he takes Ka-ho to join his triad gang and asks Ka-ho to kill Inspector Man. Manager CHEUNG and Lai-wah are busy dealing with all these matters ......

'Night Club' claims it is based on actual events. Director LO Shun-chuen would like to make the theme of this movie like his previous productions like 'Girls in the Mood' (1995) and 'Suicide' (1995). The main barrier to audience acceptance of a new movie about club girls is that the audience will stereotype the movie as yet another 'club girls' movie. This movie attempts to explore beyond the typical formula of the stories of girls and how they interact with each other by adding the sub-plot of Ka-ho and his mom Lai-wah.

However, compared with other movies about club girls like 'PR Girls' (1997), the portrayal of the life of these girls lacks depth. Audience expect greater illumination of the relationship between TONG Kei and Lai-wah. This relationship between TONG Kei and Lai-wah is poorly developed and the audience don't care enough for the characters when dramtic events unfold.

The movie should should explore the relationship between Lai-wah and CHEUNG, the plot shows that there is some romance but does not go into any detail but should give greater emphasis to Lai-wah's attitude on love.

The relationships between Linda and Lai-wah could be made more interesting if the director chose to explore the interactions between Ka-ho, Lai-wah and Linda. Linda is an interesting character, on one hand, she gives Lai-wah lots of trouble for the night club and on the other hand, she helps Ka-ho to get away from the triad. Her character should have a tough tension with Lai-wah.

Another aspect that could have been explored in 'Night Club' is the relationship between Manager CHEUNG, triad head Kao and Inspector Man. It can be a bit light as we don't need to have lots of violence, but a little explanation of the hatred between these characters could make the whole plot more understandable.

The attempt at an impressive ending is this movie's greatest failure; it is neither logical nor sensible. The actors perform too far out of character resulting in audience laughter in the theatres.

In terms of performance, Ruby WONG's role is very similar to her tough character in 'Where a good Man Goes'. Her performance reflects her experience. MAN Chung-han, plays the new club girl who has two distinct aspects to her character -- good in front of Ka-ho and her family and bad in front of Lai-wah. With Ka-ho and her family, she acts well but is less convincing in her interaction with Lai-wah, she lacks any variety in portraying her anger.

'Night Club' claims to be a movie reflecting the reality of night club life. The script tried to break with traditional portrayal by having a sub-plot between the club girl leader and her son. The idea is good but the plot would be more convincing if some of the sub-plots were elaborated on. The ending of the movie is so bad that it overshadows the good parts.