䦳Ӳ (2001)
Hollywood Hong Kong


Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 02/23/2006
Summary: Two Left Thumbs Up!

I've seen this title come up now and again, but always ignored it because of the title - the idea that something connected with "Hollywood" would be worthwhile was difficult to grasp (I know I'm revealing the depths of my shallowness). But it has nothing to do with Hollywood. In fact, it's on the far side of the world from Hollywood.

I don't know how to say much about the plot without using spoilers, and I actually will have to think it over a bit more before I fully understand what all Fruit Chan was getting at anyway. But I can say that it follows several characters who live in a shantytown next to a wealthy section of the city represented by five towering apartment buildings. This shantytown makes Stephen Chow's Pig Sty Alley look like the suburbs. Needless to say, these folks are poor.

One set of characters is a father and his two sons, all of whom are obese, and all played by actors who give excellent performances. They operate a stand that sells roast pork; you can't sell roast pork w/o butchering hogs and there are some scenes where they display their skill in this area. But it's not gratuitous, it comes into play later in the film. These guys are very simple and take joy in simple things. The younger son is about ten years old and he befriends a girl from outside the neighborhood; this girl is older than him and sexually mature, but has the same childlike innocence he has, even while having sex (not with him!).

The actress who plays the girl also gives a great performance, mixing innocence and worldliness seamlessly; I've never seen anyone do this so effectively. And, yes, she's nice on the eyes. She's very straight forward and ends up charming the father (from a distance) and the older son (much closer). She appears to know her way around the male sex very well.

The other principle character is a guy who pimps his girlfriend and seems to be operating some kind of x-rated web site, or maybe he just frequents one, it wasn't clear to me. He "meets" a girl on line (a prostitute)and makes an appointment to meet her. Yep, it's the same girl who's befriended the little boy. They have their transaction and start a friendship.

This is where spoilers would come in, so I'll stop with the plot details. The movie may be about something, or some things, else, but to me it showed a woman who is only capable of making a male friend with a ten year old because that's the only kind who won't want to immediately have sex with her. She seems simultaneously lost and in control; available to manipulate men but unable to find one who'll stand by her as she pursues her goal of getting out of HK. And yet that's not really it, because the pimp guy seemed to be genuinely smitten by her, but she didn't return his overtures; so is she really looking? Like I said, I'll have to think about it more. (And hey, when's the last time you had to think about a movie you saw? Ain't it grand!)

Like I say, I don't really know what all this movie is about, but I can say that it's done very well and all the actors are top notch; if nothing else, just see it for their fine performances. If your idea of a Hong Kong slum is Pig Sty Alley and your view of triads is Young & Dangerous, then the spirit-smothering quality of this neighborhood and the viciousness of these triads will give you another perspective. There's no putting makeup on this pig; it's tough to be poor. But don't get the wrong impression, this isn't a depressing film, there's a lot of (black) humor in it. I liked it and will watch it again.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 10/30/2005
Summary: Very hard to watch

Two things stopped me from watching past the first few minutes (and the final few).
1. The two main characters are a father and son, one slightly shorter than the other, and both unbeliveably fat and very hard on the eye.
2. These two are meat carriers, and there are several lovingly close shots of dead pigs being carried and chopped up, in gory detail.

I might have been able to stand this film if it was only #1, but certainly not with #2.

In short, this is a film for people with strong stomachs. And that ain't me !

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/24/2005
Summary: UUMMMM...............

Not too sure how i feel about this movie. It was easy to watch, i did not use the fast forward button on my remote, yet the idea of people being ripped off is a little depressing!!

Add to that the "Arm" part of the movie and the idea of making babies from pigs males it a little bit too strange for my liking

Yet the characters are easy to watch and its easy to view the main actress!! She is cute!!

7/10


Reviewed by: bastardswordsman
Date: 02/11/2002

Anyone familiar with the work of Fruit Chan should prepare themselves before going to see HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG. I was not prepared beforehand and very confused during and after. Similar in some respects to his other films, indeed one look at it and only Fruit Chan could be the creator, yet so far removed from his previous work in many respects. I cannot help but think that my favourite filmaker has 'sold out', a term I am reluctant to use at the worst and best of times.

It's a black comedy and often very funny. There's a social comment addressing housing issues, the massive Hollywood Plaza a constant, towering backdrop to the shanty village in which most of the film is set, yet this social comment does not run through the film in the way, for instance that prostitution or [illegal] immigration are issues always in the foreground of DURIAN DURIAN.

In HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG, unnecessary plotting element introduced to the proceedings are all too apparent and incrdibly frustrating. Absurd does not mean implausible, but implausible it becomes - almost embarrassingly so in places. Music, a rare but well-utilised feature in previous works is here over-used and often wincingly sentimental. Some scenes are also saccharine heavy. Compare the scene of from LITTLE CHEUNG where Cheung is punished and starts reciting speech from Old Man Cheung in the street with the younger brother in HWHK waving the flag to alert his friend that she is in danger. The former is inspiring, the latter warrants the use of the name 'Hollywood' in the title.

These are charges I would forgive most other filmakers for, especially considering the brilliance of the rest of the film, but a real change of direction from Chan. The cast is amazing, as are their performances, the photography is awesome and much of the film is wonderful, but the contrast is unexpected and too much for me to ingest with a single viewing.