The Lunatics (1986) Poster

(1986)

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9/10
Unflinching Look at Problematic subject matter
laadolf25 June 2002
This is a film that has been unfairly saddled with criticism regarding its portrayal of the homeless and mentally ill, as well as its tendency to paint its titular subjects in violent terms. However, this is a rare breed of film for Hong Kong cinema, an unapologetic social commentary.

As subjects for film, mental illness and homelessness are not recognized as elements in the formula for success. Western society has no better answers for these social problems than the HK system presented in this movie. Social workers are usually overworked and underpaid. Social programs dealing with these problems often receive little public support and agencies charged with the oversight of such programs often have chronic funding issues.

"The Lunatics" casts big name HK stars as the homeless mental patients of its title. This pejorative term does not truly reflect on how the mentally ill are viewed by the film itself. By using the label as title, the film instead challenges the beliefs of the viewer.>

The film follows a social worker as he moves through his day, doing his best to make a difference in the lives of his clients. He is dogged by a reporter wishing to shine the questionable light of journalism onto the issues of mental illness and homelessness. Her presence proves problematic in ways that propel the plot forward.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai is almost unrecognizable in a book-ended performance as the inarticulate, childlike Doggie. Doggie hangs around a fish market, trying to connect with the people who shop and work there. His attempts to engage the fish market denizens in play instead create fear and panic. Leung Chiu Wai's performance is at once moving and frightening.

Chow Yun Fat is memorable in small but heartrending role as Chung, father of two who lives in the city dump and cares for his two small children. Chung ekes out a marginal existence, but does his best to be a good father all the same. The social worker chances across him on a street corner, and is informed that he "has trouble". The social worker and the reporter follow Chung to his shack. There they find one of Chung's children deathly ill, the other missing. Chow proves his versatility once again as he adopts the furtive eye movements and muttering speech of the untreated schizophrenic--completely unrecognizable as the suave sophisticate of films like John Woo's "The Killer".

The third mental paitent seems to be rehabilitated when he is introduced. Events in his life soon spiral out of control. His stability is threatened that soon affects everyone involved in his case.

Tragedy follows tragedy as the film concludes.Along the way it has shown the shortfall of social systems to care for the disenfranchised in an unflinching and compelling way unusual for HK cinema. This film shines a courageous, unwavering light on a difficult subject.
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6/10
Good but very sad
dbborroughs29 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Hong Kong social commentary film about a shrink who helps the mentally ill street people of the city. He's followed by a reporter who has heard of his job and follows him about reporting on his patients and their lives. Good but more than a bit manipulative in its tragedy upon tragedy story line. Its a sad story that probably is accurate in many ways while amping up the violence and sadness in the name of giving the audience entertainment. The film stars several well known actors in small roles including Chow Yun Fat as a father living with his two kids in a cardboard shanty town. Its an odd duck of a movie that is atypical of anything I've seen from China. However while it is heart felt its also contrived and rather bleak to the point that I don't know who would actually want to see the film. I can't really recommend it, even to those who like bleak because this is something else. Worth a look if you want to see your favorite actors- like Chow- in off beat roles, but at the same time you may regret it because it will sadden you so. 6.5 out of 10
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9/10
Works of conscience
g-8962210 January 2022
Warning: Spoilers
Works of conscience. It's a sad, realistic movie! The whole film reveals the sadness of despair, just like the social problems that Er Dongsheng wants to show, it is difficult to solve and cannot be solved. This film not only calls on the society to pay attention to such marginal groups, but also wants to analyze the weaknesses and contradictions of human nature through the telling of the stories of marginal groups themselves? I don't know about this.
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