Monday, July 10, 2017

Our Time Will Come

A bit of a letdown, mostly because Ann Hui's previous two to make it to North America were so good. You could still sort of tell the route it was going to go, just because the trailer was, IIRC, song-based and didn't do much to sell a story at all. Which is valid enough, although it leads to a weird feeling - a preview for a film that is clearly a war story that is being presented as a romance even though it pretty clearly isn't one. There's a similar feel to the Youth trailer that China Lion attached.

On the other hand, Well Go sent trailers for The Villainess and The Adventurers for AMC to make part of their Asian movie trailer package and, yeah, I will watch the heck out of those two.

Ming Yue Ji Shi You (Our Time Will Come)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 9 July 2017 in AMC Boston Common #19 (first-run, DCP)

Ann Hui On-wah has, like most Hong Kong-based filmmakers, been making films with an eye toward the Mainland audience in recent years, though they have by and large still felt like Hong Kong movies as opposed to Mainland ones, and what makes Our Time Will Come something of a disappointment relative to her other recent films like A Simple Life and The Golden Era is that this feels like something one would make for the Mainland audience, a war picture full of noble heroism and struggle with a ton of guest stars playing real-life figures. It's made well but it lacks the personal life of her other work.

It is still a Hong Kong movie, taking place in the occupied Crown Colony in 1942, as the group captain for the Dongguan Resistance charges Brother Tsang and his subordinate Blackie Lau (Eddie Peng Yu-yen) with organizing an evacuation route for a group of intellectuals that the Japanese wish to keep a close eye on. Two of them, Mr. and Mrs. Shen (Guo Tao & Jiang Wen-li) are hiding out in an apartment owned by curious landlady Mrs. Fong (Deannie Yip Tak-han), but when the Japanese arrive early, it is up to Mrs. Fong's daughter Lan (Zhou Xun) - a quiet elementary-school teacher who wouldn't even let her mother cook the rabbit they've been fattening up - to help them escape. This success stirs something in her, and soon Blackie aims to recruit her as part of the Urban Unit - while her former fiancee Lee Gau-wing (Wallace Huo Chien-hua) takes a position at the Japanese headquarters.

It's a potent-enough setup for a thriller, and if Hui and writer Ho Kei-ping were inclined to fictionalize and sensationalize it a bit more, they might have a cracker of a spy movie, with a potentially entertaining love triangle at the center. That is not the sort of myth-making they choose to engage in, though, instead focusing on the everyman heroism that happens in times of war, with the previously-cautious mother deciding to follow her daughter's example during an act break and collaborators being so rare that even the gangsters seem to decide to join in on their patriotic duty fairly quickly. It's a perfectly valid take, probably more realistic than the more stylized adventures that often come out of the war, but it can feel like a dry history lesson at times, especially when a "what happened later" screen comes up in the middle of the movie and there are regular cut-aways to faux-documentary footage of Tony Leung Ka-fai as an elderly version of "Little Ben" (Julian Chan), the pre-teen messenger who shows up in the second half of the movie.

Full review on EFC.

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