films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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A West Lake Moment

Yuan Yang Hu Die
2004 / 112m - China
Drama, Romance
A West Lake Moment poster


by Ho Yim
Si Shui Liu Nian
1984 / 96m - Hong Kong
Homecoming poster

Relatively generic arthouse drama. The basis for Homecoming is the usual rural vs urban friction that seems to permeate every single Chinese arthouse film. Yim's direction is pretty steadfast and the film does have its moments, but there's not a single scene that surprises, which is a real bummer.

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Coral is a woman from lives in Hong Kong, but who feels lost in the city. Desperate for a change of scenery, she travels back to her hometown. She visits some old friends there, but then it transpires that her time away from home has changed her in such a way that going back to her old life is virtually impossible.

Performances are decent but nothing special, the cinematography is clean but a little dim and the score doesn't add much substantial. The drama is passable, and the film never becomes overly generic, it's just that I've seen the same thing so many times before that it just doesn't really work anymore.

King Of Chess

Kei Wong
1991 / 109m - Hong Kong
King Of Chess poster

A story split into two different parts. Not so much a story even, but two separate fragments which are taken out of the life of the main character. The setup of the film made zero sense to me, but maybe it's because I never felt a strong connection with the characters and the drama on display here. Hark Tsui and Ho Yim try for a more serious film, but it just doesn't work.

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Ching is an ad guy hired to boost the ratings of a television station. He finds a psychic kid and pitches him against a chess champion, but once the tournament is underway Ching starts to question the ethical implications of his actions. He is reminded of the time he met a legendary chess master in the 60s, during the Cultural Revolution.

The film is too silly to be taken seriously, but it's also way too dry and serious in its delivery. The two stories seen separately aren't too bad and they kept me engaged but combined they just didn't make any sense. The film lacks focus, proper dramatic performances, and a sensible structure. This is one of Hark's weaker efforts.