You have to wonder exactly why a film like this
is even made or who the potential audience was expected to be. I would
bet that even the actors were unaware when it ran for a whole week (and
made an astounding HK$ 5,910 at the box office!). There in no real story
here – just a number of interwoven middling storylines that never come
to much – and opening a crackerjack box has more dramatic tension than
is contained within. Yet, I actually sort of enjoyed the film just for
those reasons – the film has no particular ambitions and doesn’t even attempt
to be cutting edge or clever – and succeeds very well at not doing so.
It is simply the story of a family and a community and their interactions
with one another. It made me think of what perhaps the old low budget Cantonese
dramas of the 1960’s must have been like – the ones that were termed “weekly’s”
for the expected time of their run in the theaters and for how long they
took to make.
Rare for Hong Kong films of today, the characters
are lower class working stiffs who have a sense of community – not exactly
a “House of 72 Tenants” – but along those lines. Instead of a housing complex,
the characters work in an open-air market plying their trades of butcher,
fishmonger, bra seller and so on and they all feel connected to one another.
The film has some of those tell-tale Cantonese melodramatic flourishes
as well – the poor girl with a limp in love with a wealthy man, the older
sister who sacrifices her happiness to provide for her two younger sisters,
the community standing up to the government that wants to tear down their
market. It should have been filmed in black and white. None of these plot
lines has any tension whatsoever and you have no doubt that at the end
of the film all will end happily for everyone involved – but that was just
fine for the mood I was in.
For such a low-key and low-budget film, it has
a solid cast of leading ladies, character actors and pop stars. The three
sisters – named Kudzu, Mud-carp and Bean – are played by Ellen Chan (credited
on the Tai Seng DVD as Allen Chan!), Loletta Lee and Elle Choi (a pop singer).
It is wonderful having Ellen Chan back on the film scene again after a
long absence – and though one has to stretch credulity a long ways to accept
her as a fish seller – she looks great and does a nice job here and leaves
her sexuality at the door. In fact it is lovely seeing both her and Loletta
getting center stage in a period when it seems most female film roles are
going to actresses who still look to have curfew times on dates.
Of course Loletta and Ellen were in the same boat
back in the 1980’s – the original cutie pies – and they still are. Their
careers have paralleled each other to some degree – both had success
in the mainstream 80’s films before turning to Cat. III films in the early
90’s before a return to the mainstream. They are two of my favorites
and always will be. Appearing also are Ronald Cheng (another pop singer/actor),
Alex To (who plays himself), Sherming Yiu, Lui Fong (another familiar face
from the 80’s who seems to have returned to film making), Wong Yat Fei,
Edmund Leung and Tats Lau. There are also a number of pop songs on the
sound track from I assume Alex, Elle and Ronald. It is not much of a film
really, but I enjoyed it for what it was and for what it wasn’t.
My rating for this film: 6.0