In 1997, Little Cheung is a street-wise nine-year-old boy living in a bustling neighbourhood of Hong Kong, just before the reunification with China. His parents are always working at their ... See full summary »
In 1997, Little Cheung is a street-wise nine-year-old boy living in a bustling neighbourhood of Hong Kong, just before the reunification with China. His parents are always working at their restaurant, so Little Cheung becomes much closer to his grandmother and her Filipino maid Armi. Little Cheung befriends Fan, a girl his age who is an illegal immigrant from China. He splits his tips with her when she helps him deliver take-outs for his father. The pair have some amusing adventures, and delight in peeing in the drinks of a troublesome thug. Against his father's will, Little Cheung starts searching for his older brother, whom his father disowned because he became a gangster. Written by
A rare treat of realism from Hong Kong's most celebrated independent film director
Fruit Chan, the director of this second film of a triology about Hong Kong before and after the "handover" (at 1997, when Hong Kong was switched from a British colony to a special administrative region of China), is a rare and truly wonderful treat. The story is about the coming-of-age of a pre-teen boy "Little Cheung", the son of a street-wise owner of a restaurant in the Mongkok area (think Queens in NYC or Mission in San Francisco) and shares the name of a famous Cantonese opera singer. He meets all sorts of characters through helping his father delivering foods to regular customers - a pathetic gang leader, prostitutes, aging owners of funeral homes - and a girl who recently came from China illegally. While not able to study because of her illegal status, the girl "Ah Fan" ends up forming a "partnership" with Little Cheung to deliver foods (and share the tips) which develops into a memorable friendhship for both.
Chan's style is bare and touching, and has a tone that is neither moralistic or judging - no small achievement for a movie that aims to be a social commentary. It simply protriats the tough reality of life through the eyes of a young boy whose goal in life, like most Hong Kong people, is to make more money and satisfy their materialistic needs. Everything else that may touch one's own deeper inner feelings is underplayed or simply hidden.
Although none of the actors in the film is professional, the acting, especially the boy who played "Little Cheung", is superb. There are many references to local culture that may be difficult for non-native audiences, and there are also hints of storylines that come from the two other films ("The longest summer" and "Durian Durian"). But for anyone who wishes to go behind the Hong Kong "genre" and get a real sense of how Hong Kong people live, Fruit Chan's films are excellent starting points.
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