This first effort from director Daniel Chan shows
a great deal of promise. He clearly has a handle on the technical and artistic
aspects of filmmaking and fills the frame with real visual flair. Something
interesting odd camera angles, distortion, speeding up, figures bathed
in strange hues makes the film seem more intriguing than it really is.
The film definitely has an arty/indie feel to it that looks to be much
more influenced by US Indies than HK films. The film is kind of compelling
and yet also distant. The problem is that Chan seems so intent on showing
us every film technique and trick in the book (as talented first time directors
are wont to do) that he creates a bit of a barrier between the viewer and
the characters. One feels distanced from the story and for all the snazzy
filmmaking in the end it is ultimately a disappointing experience. Though
you can admire what the director is doing, I never connected with the characters
and their lives at all - and felt very little emotion at the end.
There are some excellent performances though -
from Roy Cheung - doing his bad guy again, but in a wonderfully dapper
and evil way, Akira Koieyama as a Japanese hitman and Josie Ho as a hostess
girl with the proverbial heart of gold. The problem is though that these
were supporting roles - and the main character played by Ken Wong was such
an irritating loser that you wanted him to step in front of a moving car.
The title refers to the slow fade of Wongs world
- his dreams, his hopes, his life. The film begins with some dazzling shots
of Hong Kong at night and then a sense of speeding through the dark,curving,
silent streets. This though is seemingly a metaphor for the drug high that
Wong is in the middle of and it turns out to be a near lethal overdose.
He ends up in a hospital where he meets another patient Josie Ho and
through flashbacks his life story spills out in drips and drabs. With a
seemingly good future and a loving wife (Sara Au), he begins a series of
mis-steps that sends his life into a tailspin. He first allows a friend
(Jimmy Wong) to talk him into joining a criminal group but when their
activities escalate into murder, he wants to get out. There is no getting
out of course until he becomes a drug addict and disappears down the
dark hole of that world.
He then tries to get his life together decides
he loves Josie a hostess in a nightclub and so goes to her boss, Roy
Cheung, and asks for him to release her from her duties. Sure, Cheung says
but first I need a little favor smuggle some drugs into Macau for me
and we are even. A number of dead bodies and double crosses later and
Wongs life looks headed for a fast fade.
The pieces are in place for an involving film
but it never clicks. You just dont care enough about what happens to
Wong - whether he finds redemption in the arms of Josie Ho or not.
Chan has the film bouncing around so much that no emotional cord is created.
Still this is a well made film lots of creative ideas taking place
and is another good indication that HK films are far from dead and willing
to explore new avenues. This film apparently was shown at a number of festivals
around the world Berlin, Cannes and New York to mention a few.
My rating for this film: 6.5