Monday, September 11, 2017

The Sinking City: Capsule Odyssey

Apologies for any names that are screwed up; not only does this film not have any IMDB entry even though it was apparently released in Hong Kong a month and a half ago (I accidentally discovered one on The Movie Database because that's what Letterboxd is built from and I have to wonder who uses that), but I couldn't get a picture of the credits like I usually do. The TMDB entry was okay for the guys in the movie, but pretty crap for the ladies, which is frustrating.

I think I was alone in the theater for this one, which is always weird and doubly so for a movie where I'm pretty far from the target audience. It doesn't seem to have made Box Office Mojo's weekend list, despite that going down to movies that made $500, although, again, I wonder if that's true "literally no-one else was interested" or just Magnum Films not bothering with English-language media in this case. Either way, kind of what you'd expect for a Chinese import that has had a month and a half for pirates to do their thing, I guess.

Been a while since I've been to one of these screenings and came out thinking that I hoped this wouldn't dissuade the AMC folks from booking Asian movies, and it's a sign of how things have changed that my reaction was less about being worried for the future but wondering why they didn't use the screen for one of the other imports that was available. Progress!

Xi Huang Ji Luo Zhi Tai Bao Tai Zi Tai Kong Cang (The Sinking City: Capsule Odyssey)

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

Stephen and Nero Ng kick The Sinking City off with a satirical, clever hook that seems like it could lead to a lot of fun places, but which never really becomes a story. An entertaining cast and a steady stream of chuckle-worthy gags help things move along, and the Ngs thankfully don't try to stretch this out too far. Still, for what seems like a lot of potential, there's not a lot of meat on these bones.

Buying a home in Hong Kong has, apparently, not gotten any easier since Pang Ho-cheung's Dream Home, although Chi-hin (Chau Pak-ho) has a less desperate plan - while girlfriend Won Yi (Jacqueline Chong Si-man) moves back in with her mother, he will say he is working in New York while actually moving into the tiny apartment of Shing (Andrew Lam Man-ching), who rents the other "capsules" set up in the living room to would-be gangster Fung (Babyjohn Choi Hon-yik), who got into crime to fight but keeps getting stuck smuggling; ex-con Sui-cheung (Bob Lam Shing-pun), unnerved to see his accused-rapist cellmate has a girlfriend; and delivery truck driver Ming (Louis Cheung Kai-chung), who can't exactly get busy with his own girl in those tight quarters.

Hong Kong isn't what it used to be in The Sinking City; Chi-hin's goals of working in real estate have him instead paid to post about it on Facebook while Fung is starting to realize that his life is just never going to become the Johnnie To movie he imagines, and you can find something similar going on with most of the ensemble. The Ngs only rarely have them encounter the other side of the city that can actually afford a nice place, and there's the sense that they want the film to be more cutting at those points than the The Sinking City winds up being: Despite a moment or two when the audience sees how desperate people are to get "on board" (HK slang for home ownership) or how blithe those who are about the rest of the city, the filmmakers never seem zeroed in on a target.

Full review on EFC.

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