Wong gok hak yau (2004 - Hong Kong) One Night in Mongkok
Directed by Tung-Shing Yee
Starring Daniel Wu, Alex Fong, Kar Lok Chin, Cecilia Cheung
The second of six films in the Tartan Asia extreme tour and a damn sight better than the first, R-Point - 2004 .
A turf war between two gangs of youths leads to the death of one of them and escalates into a feud between two of Hong Kongs biggest gangs. The police seem unable to clarify the truth and identify those involved but get information that a hit man has been hired to take out one of the bosses. Their job is to catch the assassin before he reaches his target and avoid an all out gang war
Sounds like any one of the dime a dozen Hong Kong action flicks, the sort that make you wonder why anyone would visit never mind live in Hong Kong and indeed thats the impression it gives for the first ten minutes or so. It has all the usual ingredients including the tart with a heart (Cecilia Cheung) but somewhere along the line things change. As with "Infernal Affairs", this raises itself above the quagmire and produces a film with a bit of depth and conscience.
In the average flick of this type life is cheap, the deaths mount up till in the end you think theyre going for the world record, guns are seen everywhere and nobody seems to bat an eyelid even when they start going off. The bad guys and often the police dont appear to care who gets caught in the crossfire as long as they get their man and more often than not, the police are just as, if not more thuggish and bullying than the bad guys.
In this film, people see someone with a gun and they panic, scream, run or fall to the ground, especially when the gun is fired. Life, even the lowest is respected by most and the police in particular have a conscience and try to capture the bad guys rather than putting bullets through their heads. Small changes, but ones that make big differences to the overall tone of the film.
There is a strange religious mix, the events take place just before Christmas and its quite funny when the hit man (who is also on a mission to find out whats happened to his sister) asks Dan Dan (the tart with a heart) why everyone is dressed up and she says something like I dont know, think its the birthday of that Jesus guy.
I went to see it expecting the worst and have to admit I was impressed with it, the one problem I did have was with Cecilia Cheungs character, she didnt quite gel in her role as a working girl and (this maybe down to the subtitling) she had a horrible habit of saying my dear at the end of almost every sentence (a little too Nancy - the original "Tart with a heart" from Charles Dickens Oliver Twist!)
The camerawork was good, the acting overall very credible and the plotline although hardly original was above average for its genre, above all the films got soul.
Recommended, above average crime drama and one I'd consider buying on dvd.
BBFC rated 15