Posts Tagged ‘Pang Ho-Cheung’



HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Pang Ho-Cheung Written by: Pang Ho-Cheung, Kwok Cheung Tsang, Wan Chi-Man Produced by: Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Subi Liang, Pang Ho-Cheung  Cinematography by: Nelson Yu Lik-Wai  Editing by: Wenders Li  Music by: Gabriele Roberto  Cast: Josie Ho, Anthony Wong, Michelle Ye, Norman Chu, Lawrence Chou, Eason Chan, Kwok Cheung Tsang, Hee Ching Paw, Hoi-Pang Lo, Ching Wong, Ying Kwan Lok, Juno Mak, Lap-Man Sin, Wai Hung Chan, Chu-Chu Zhou, Juan Song

In order to afford her dream home a woman, Cheng Li-Sheung, goes to great lengths, applying very drastic measures to make her dying father happy with a sea view apartment: once she has identified the property of choice, she begins to kill her neighbors one by one so that the value drops dramatically, bringing the price down into a range she can afford. But despite her will to inflict utmost brutality on her victims, she also seems to be just an ordinary girl pursuing a dream – and inevitably heading for trouble the longer she plays this vicious game.

DREAM HOME boasts a very fine and complex script that provides plenty of reasons for the main character to act the way she does: we learn a lot about her through her childhood memories, especially how the difficult relationship with her father has formed her personality, as well as it explains her dependency on her dad’s affection and motivation behind the need to buy that apartment. Her mother’s and brother’s roles are equally important, laying out a precise, psychological and believable cause-and-result pattern – DREAM HOME isn’t absurd, but an intense study of an unstable personality spiraling out of control.

Cheng Li-Sheung’s dull, monotone and difficult working life adds another interesting component, turning her into someone who is used to rejection, used to the harsh reality out there that is best dealt with in raw fashion. Ultimately, Cheng separates her gentle and fragile side from the side that shows no mercy, no morals and no guilt, and she develops into a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of character who puts her dream above anything else, even human life, in a delusion that fulfilling that dream could lead to salvation and a redefined relationship with her father.

It has been noted that DREAM HOME lacks coherence, but after studying the history of serial killers in-depth you will realize that schizophrenia doesn’t need a reason. People have been killed under far more random circumstances, so Cheng Li-Sheung’s motivation seems fairly reasonable after all. But you will have to understand that she is in fact not a girl next door anymore when the film starts, but that at this point she has crossed the line and changed into a deviant psychopath. She is leading a double life, and her measures are completely out of proportion – there is no turning back for her, she has lost it completely. There is only black and white, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that she is a sadistic killer, as she derives no pleasure from the violence, but sees it as a necessary means to an end. She is committing horrible crimes, but always looks beyond the here and now, hence never actually feels anything about what happens.

There are many other ways looking at DREAM HOME besides watching it as a slasher: the movie first and foremost is a very black comedy, a sarcastic comment on Hong Kong’s money-driven culture and inflated real estate market, and an essay on what values in life really matter. Mr. Pang is taking things to the edge, so that the most violent moments border on the hilarious, but never turn into slapstick: the line between laughter and shock maybe thin, but it’s always there. DREAM HOME remains a gut-wrenching flick at all times, and is probably one of the most violent movies of the year, yet it is also one of the most intelligent films of the year, telling a story that is painfully real and intense like few other films that were released in 2010.

The ending is, quite as expected, less coincidental but most of all consequential, a reductio ad absurdum, leaving Cheng and the audience speechless in view of what just happened. It’s the to-the-point conclusion of a great, condensed film that deserves to be praised – it’s a truly accomplished work.

With DREAM HOME Mr. Pang proves once again to be one of Hong Kong’s most versatile filmmakers and a brilliant observer who likes to dismantle reality and bring its essence to the screen, concerned most of all with what moves the ordinary citizen amid an ever-changing world. I recommend watching his previous film LOVE IN A PUFF back to back with DREAM HOME, and you will come to the conclusion that Mr. Pang’s films are wonderful, contemporary works from Hong Kong that shouldn’t be missed.

Whatever’s next, I bet on Mr. Pang to excite the audience with another surprising, and surprisingly good, film. I’d kill to see it today.








HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Pang Ho-Cheung  Story: Pang Ho-Cheung Written by: Pang Ho-Cheung, Heiward Mak Produced by: Subi Liang, Pang Ho-Cheung  Cinematography: Jason Kwan  Editing: Wenders Li  Music: Ngai Lun Wong, Janet Yung  Cast: Miriam Yeung, Shawn Yue, Tat-Ming Cheung, Matt Chow, Tien You Chui, Charmaine Fong, Vincent Kok, Jo Kuk, Ying Kwan Lok, Sharon Luk, Fei-Iin Miao, Roy Szeto, Tak-Bun Wong

Thinking about all the ups and even more downs of the Hong Kong film industry one easily forgets one of its unique assets: the nameless sub-genre of movies philosophizing about life and love in the city (which in this form of course has been started by Wong Kar-Wai). It’s a genre born out of historic events, mostly the 1997 handover: shortly before this life-defining incident the first films of this kind surfaced, and ever since the mid-nineties works discussing the cloudy future of Hong Kong’s current Generation XYZ have become a standard in the local film repertoire. Not that most of these movies were ever more than niche or independent films (they lacked the large portions of slapstick of other romantic or comedic movies to make it to blockbuster fame), but looking back they have always been around sporadically.

LOVE IN A PUFF by writer-director Pang Ho-Cheung shares the same tradition, even though it appears to be more conceptual: the story deals with the changing smoking laws in Hong Kong and centers around a group of working professionals for whom smoking is an essential part of their lifestyle. In fact, smoking is crucial for socializing and displaces eating or working from the top spot.

Shot partly in quasi-documentary style LOVE IN A PUFF observes a group of colleagues working in the same building or district, meeting regularly at the designated smoking areas to exchange news, jokes and gossip. Most of the time is spent on updating each other on the relationships of friends, and of course a cigarette is also a welcome starting point of new relationships, like between Jimmy (Yue) and Cherie (Yeung). As both are having troubles with their partners they start spending more and more time together, finding the comfort of strangers.

It is wonderful to watch their relationship grow (and other relationships deteriorate, or at least stagnate), interspersed with pseudo-realistic interviews and news on Hong Kong’s changing smoking laws. LOVE IN A PUFF is a cynical comment on the city’s smoking situation and it makes the best out of it using it as a thematic backdrop for its story. Smoking with a vengeance, it’s payback time: the ordinary man and woman aren’t gonna give up easily.

Despite LOVE IN A PUFF bordering on satire it still shows all the strengths of Hong Kong’s life-and-love-in-the-city flicks: the loose flow, the random events, the unpretentious attitude, the natural acting, the girl-and-boy-next-door love story, the humorous and emotional conversations about trivial matters and the very individual perspectives on the shared reality.

Life isn’t all that serious in LOVE IN A PUFF – it rather just goes by (usually not too fast) or zigzags from one mundane event to the next. Always authentic and entertaining, the movie shows Pang’s talent for discovering the extraordinary within the ordinary, just like in many of his earlier movies before. Life doesn’t need special effects, it needs someone to pay attention and appreciate its diversity and nuances. Pang delivers another fine film with LOVE IN A PUFF, a worthy successor of gems like LOVE IS NOT A GAME, BUT A JOKE or FEEL 100% / FEEL 100%…ONCE MORE.

If you have been an avid fan of Hong Kong cinema back then you will appreciate LOVE IN A PUFF as one of the warmest and most charming movies in a while. It’s a lively account of Hong Kong anno 2010, and proof that everything remains different.