Chinese Box

1997

Drama / Romance

0
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 3302

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 16, 2021 at 10:25 PM

Director

Cast

Ralph Lister as Principal
François Chau as Mr. Wong
Josie Ho as Lilly
720p.BLU
913.24 MB
1280*682
English 2.0
R
24 fps
1 hr 39 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 7 / 10

Allegorical symbolism in Hong Kong

The story structure when looking it up sounded really interesting, well the whole concept did, and am a fan of Jeremy Irons (seeing that it was one of not many films of his not seen yet), so they were my two main reasons for seeing 'Chinese Box'. Was very intrigued too by the subject of the political change in the handover of the British rule of Hong Kong returning to China, and was impressed by the couple of clips found of it to give a taster of what to expect.

It is a shame that 'Chinese Box' is so overlooked and not very well known. It may not be one of Wayne Wang's best films or his most accessible, one of those divisive films that will test the patience of some if not familiar with what the film is trying to say and do and fascinate others. It was the latter with me, but it's not hard to see why 'Chinese Box' won't be for everyone. It is though to me one of his most intriguing films, in terms of the subject and the symbolism, and a contender for his most underrated (try not to throw that word around now but do feel it's apt here). With its subject too, it should be treated more importantly in my view as it does in some way strike me as an important film, being the first film to depict the changeover.

'Chinese Box' isn't perfect. The pace does meander in spots, with parts feeling a bit aimless. The brief wordless flashback voiced over came over as rather vague and could have done with being longer.

Did think too that some of Gong Li's dialogue was pretty weak and the love backstory could have been explored more.

All that said, 'Chinese Box' was very well done and fascinating. Hong Kong looks wonderful, but one wouldn't expect any less because it's a place so beautiful that ruining it on film would be difficult. Some may not like the camera work, actually liked the documentary-like improvisatory look, with it mirroring John creating his documentary. The music is hauntingly hypnotic, capturing the sounds of Hong Kong/China in a way that makes one feel that they're there taking in the atmosphere, and Wang's direction complements the atmosphere of the period beautifully.

Some of Li's dialogue aside, the dialogue is thought-provoking, very honest and at times remarkably nuanced. John's reaction to being told by Vivian that she wants to leave Hong Kong really sears. The story may alienate people and leave them cold, for me the odd problems with pacing aside a lot of it worked. Structurally it's unconventional and episodic, but not in a bad way, never feeling too random or hard to follow. Wasn't left cold by 'Chinese Box' either, its portrayal of Hong Kong during the period depicted and the cultural differences and barriers is an accurate and painfully honest one done so authentically in a way that one can feel and smell it that would have hit home with people then with feelings still raw.

Was also moved by 'Chinese Box', although there could have been more development to it the love story did touch and charm me, feeling genuine, and the final scenes brought a lump to my throat. A few memorable scenes here that have since seeing the film stayed with me, such as John trying to persuade Jean to give an interview, that aforementioned scene and the scene with John and Vivian in the bar with Vivian mimicking Marlene Dietrich. It is a film that truly excels when it comes to mood and atmosphere, both done to perfection, and the human condition aspect is done with a lot of truth and liked that the film didn't seem to take sides. The narration was sincere and nuanced, and Irons could not have been a better choice to voice it (one only has to read the 'Lolita' audio-book or any other films that he does voice overs for to hear how amazing he is at it).

Characters are allegorical and symbolic, and not in a way that's black and white, John representing the dying colonial past for instance, and he and Jean are written in a compellingly real fashion. Vivian was a touch underwritten but was far from a cipher. Irons is just terrific and it is there in the list of performances of his that are among the best that are sadly overlooked, not just the expressive line delivery but also the way he uses his face and eyes, subtle but layered. A prime example is that previously mentioned reaction, starting off in a wordless mix of hurt, shock and anger told just throughout the face and eyes (he was always one of the best at this) and all those things increase intensely and movingly when he speaks, reminding one fondly of the tortured type of characters he plays so well. Li is alluring and touching with great chemistry with Irons, and Cheung even more so. Rueben Blades is similarly memorable, his music, which is truly beautiful with lyric writing that has a lot of power, symbolic of John's despair and emotions.

In conclusion, very interesting and well done. 7/10

Reviewed by dromasca 8 / 10

love in an achanging world

The world is changing around the characters in 'Chinese Box'. The screen time focuses on the six months between the New Year 1997 and the end of the British rule in Hong Kong. It's also the time that is left for John, the principal character of the film, a freelance journalist trying to store on film and in words the transition and dying of leukemia. It is the time when not only the world is changing in an unknown direction, but also when John may or may not find the fulfilling of his great love to Vivian, a beautiful Chinese bartender with a dubious past, herself in love with a third, Chinese man.

The story is a combination between culture clash movies intertwined with love stories a la 'Shogun' with love stories in the shade of a crumbling world as in 'Casablanca'. It is to the credit of the director that despite a little too simplistic and explicit romantic intrigue he succeeds to bring to screen and combine a little of the charm of both genres in the right dosage. One may wonder where did Wayne Wang's career go lately and why he rather picked to do trashy films as 'Maid in Manhattan'.

The strength of the film and what makes it survive well the decade since its realization resides however in the rendition of the city, of its infinite colors and smells, of the crowd and the noise, of its hopes, fears and dreams in the wake of the falling under Communist rule. Jeremy Irons is perfect as he will ever be, Li Gong is an enigmatic Chinese Hepburn, and Ruben Blades and Maggie Chang fill in two memorable supporting roles and another lateral story that fits well in the mosaic. 'Chinese Box' catches both a moment to remember in history and a beautiful love story to remember as well, on the background of a world in transition to an unknown destination.

Reviewed by MarieGabrielle 8 / 10

Interesting study...

Jeremy Irons portrays a terminal man in Hong Kong at the period when British rule on that province is terminated.There are assorted disparate characters and plot points reflected in the frenetic city itself.

Gong Li as Vivian portrays a woman from "North China" (wrong side of the tracks) who cannot marry a Hong Kong businessman due to her lower station. She alternately flirts with Irons,even as she herself works part time as an escort,apparently a role she likes for its escapism.

Maggie Cheung as Jean portrays a displaced street-walker,with a marring scar on her face. Irons takes an interest in filming her and the disjointed scenes of the Hong Kong streets. The visceral sense of Hong Kong and its people is captured brilliantly. The constant camera movement reflects uncertainty and unpredictability.

Ruben Blades as Irons temporary house-mate also adds to the storytelling aspect. His ballads softly underline Irons' despair,and the unrest of Hong Kong itself.Recommended.

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