As a big fan of Chip Tsao's column and radio program, I rushed to see his director debut Enthralled which he also wrote the script. While I am impressed with his squeezing in so much Hong Kong politics, history and social issues packaged in sex and lust scenes, I feel kind of overwhelmed and disappointed because of his over-ambition.
The movie centers around three elementary school friends who split after 1989 and reunite after 20 years, only to find each other has developed very different lives. They make an appointment to meet again in a year and more things happen within that year, making the appointment uncertain to take place. One of the protagonists is a returned emigrant who is now an investment bank executive madly in love with the beautiful wife of an ambitious politician. The second one is a university lecturer who is obsessed in searching for his father who abandoned the family. The last one is a handsome hair stylist who is willing to do anything to hang around with any rich and lonely wife, or her family. All three men have their obsession in sex and/or love and maybe further goals. As the story develops, the three men encounter betrayal, deceit besides honesty.
The only point these three men have in common is their primary school experience. I wish their stories had more overlapping elements which could certainly enhance the dramatic value. As it stands now though, there are so many details in each sub-story that it is quite tedious to let the emotions sink in. Perhaps the whole story can be expressed better in a novel and thus putting it on the big screen requires another set of skills. Written by a prolific columnist, the witty dialogues literally flood the sound tracks and keep pounding without leaving room for the audience to digest. If you read Tsao's column or listen to his radio program regularly you can find his shadow everywhere. But on the screen, they are still delivered in the form of lengthy and/or punchy lines, unfortunately and worse yet, by actors who could have better acting skills. So the result is a little too pretentious and does not feel natural.
If you are looking at the elements the film covers, it can be good value for the money since the movie touch on a lot of social and political issues. It is almost like a buffet packed into a crowded hall: you are just too busy scanning and picking the food, let alone sitting down and appreciating it.
It is exactly what ruins the movie – too ambitious to include too many issues brought out by too many characters so each story line is weakly developed. In fact, each story can be developed into an entire movie where more character development can be explored. The political connotations (China and Xinjiang, returning Hong Kong to China etc) are too obvious and kind of ruin the fun.
I appreciate Tsao's intention in showing Hong Kong through three men representing three social classes. Only in reality, these people probably cannot be friends, at least not in Hong Kong. However, I really appreciate the good intention and sincerity in portraying post-1997 Hong Kong in relating to an earlier British colony. Overall, it is a much stronger script and plot than many local authors who attempt similar subjects. I hope more films will be made on similar issues.
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Shing, Ka-Lok and Adam are three childhood friends who grew up in the shadow of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and have just reunited for the first time in Hong Kong as adults. While sitting in a bar, each dispenses precise exposition, reciting his own personal history as if reading from a casting call sheet. Before leaving the bar, Adam who graduated from Cambridge and works as a managing director at a big bank picks up Julie, a bored socialite whose much older husband is running for local office. Meanwhile, Shing spies rich divorcee Linda and makes a quick connection. Is it for money or is it for love? Who knows or cares - she's got the bank account and he's got the virile young body and good grooming habits. He gets Linda's financial help to open his own hair salon, and soon forms a bond with Linda's teenage son, whose awkwardness and proto-Justin Bieber hairdo signal certain alternative leanings. Meanwhile, Ka-Lok teaches literature while wandering morosely around Hong Kong. He is searching for his long-lost father, who may be dead or disappeared, and that makes his moroseness nearly intolerable to himself and others. One of his mainland students, Snowy takes a shine to him, though he's so morose that Rihanna could jump his bones and he probably wouldn't stop reading that damn Sylvia Plath novel. Ka-Lok's situation eventually slides into a morose personal hell, while Adam's affair with Julie also leads to a form of perdition.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 24, 2022 at 08:25 PM