Escape From Hong Kong Island

***1/2

Reviewed by: Darren Amner

An ambitious, self-seeking stock trader, Raymond Mak (Jordan Chan) has just been fired. As he leaves his office for the last time, he is robbed of all his cash. He has lined up a new job with his former company's competitors across the harbour, but getting there to sign a contract by the five o'clock deadline proves to be an intractable problem.

The film acts as a commentary on many aspects of Hong Kong society, especially the materialistic and capitalistic nature of its inhabitants, contrasting their views and ways of living. Raymond's normal day-to-day activities, his actions and interactions with people, come back to haunt him throughout his journey, as it becomes increasingly clear that nobody will help him to get to his destination on time.

He is used to having power over people through his wealth and place within society, yet given his circumstances nobody is prepared to break the rules for someone as self-obsessed as he. An indication of this is when he tries to withdraw money from his local bank without any ID. It seems that being the branch's premier customer, with a balance of over $1 million, doesn't justify special treatment.

Director Simon Loui Yu-Yeung frames Mak's desperate situation very well, using kinetic hand-held close ups, split screen confrontation segments, slow motion pleas and a speeded up montage of his attempts to raise cash. Chan gives a performance of real depth, displaying a wide range of emotions and great physical comedy, during Mak's frantic attempts to make his meeting. Phones are slammed down at the mention of his name; offices come to a stand still at his mere presence; a little black book carries an unlimited amount of relationships, rendered useless due to his innate selfishness.

Humour plays a big part in the film. One particular scene involves his two former girlfriends discovering Mak's cheating, deceptive ways. Candy isn't annoyed that he's cheated on her with Lucy, her friend, whom she introduced to him. She is more concerned that the fight that ensued took place outside her favourite store, Christian Dior. Now, after all the saleswomen witnessed the ruckus, she can never contemplate shopping there again.

The comical set-ups to raise money work well - visiting the truly freaked out secretary, he is adamant he treated well (he didn't; he bullied her), and a trip to the sperm donor, where he can't perform, because of the constant images bombarding his mind. Thinking his family will be his safeguard, he tries to call them, despite having not bothered to stay in touch, and is met with mixed responses.

His sister leads a simple life and often struggles, but remains upbeat and happy to see him and acts as the catalyst in his reaffirmation about the perception of his life. His brother, a budding chef, hates him and threatens to kill him. Needless to say, Mak is taken aback by such an outburst. It's only when he meets a homeless person again that he begins to realise that rich, or not, the most important thing in this world is to be happy.

I liked the movie's themes and values. Raymond Mak goes on a personal journey, both physically and emotionally, and the outcome makes him re-evaluate the choices he once made. The film looks at friendship and the way we interact with others and the need to treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves

An enjoyable journey. Recommended.

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2005
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A stock trader in Hong Kong discovers that power and wealth is nothing if you are not happy.
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Director: Simon Loui Yu-Yeung

Writer: Simon Loui Yu-Yeung

Starring: Jordan Chan, Chapman To, Coco Chiang Yi, Vincent Kok

Year: 2004

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: China

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