Unemployed actor Fay (Chow Yun-Fat) and petty gangster Keung become firm friends, refusing to let their mutual affection towards Nam, the only child of a local merchant, come between them.

Relationships between the three friends are put to the test when the Japanese invade Hong Kong. Seemingly a collaborator, Fay secretly aids the resistance as he looks for a way for the trio to escape.

Hong Kong 1941 is an interesting, competently made film whose obvious good intentions are undercut by constraints of budget and genre. Predominantly a dramatic and sometimes romantic essay on themes of loyalty, honour and friendship, the isolated action sequences tend to feel perfunctory, jarring with the rest of the film, or being hamstrung by limited resources.

The three leads deliver convincing performances. Yun-Fat demonstrates the casual charisma that was soon to make him an international superstar, while Cecilia Yip is far better than one could expect a model turned actress appearing in only her second feature to be.

The cinematography is beautiful, though its contribution to the epic sweep of the film is counterbalanced by some historical anachronisms - Japanese jets in 1941 - awkward Mockney-style English dubbing and a score that tends to aggravate the ear rather than add emotional gravitas.

Hong Kong 1941 is a frustrating film - you can sense a great movie trying to escape, only to be dragged back down each time. Even so, it should appeal to Chow Yun Fat fans.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2002
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Chow Yun Fat stars in this Eighties romantic melodrama set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.
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Director: Po Chieh-Leong

Writer: Koon Chung Chan

Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Cecilia Yip Tong, Alex Mann, Shih Kien

Year: 1984

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Hong Kong


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