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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Good Take! – anthology of Macau-set shorts by five Hong Kong directors

Mixed bag of short stories has a cast of Hong Kong favourites. There’s a definite macabre flavour to some of them, and the materialistic excess of Macau comes into focus too

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 11:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 11:00am

3/5 stars

Until Ten Years ’ recent success, omnibus films have rarely made an impression in Hong Kong, be it due to the lack of a strong unifying motif (2008’s A Decade of Love) or mere incompetent screenwriting (2013’s Hardcore Comedy ). Produced by old-timer Eric Tsang Chi-wai, Good Take! seeks to revive the format with five self-contained, Macau-set stories – some of which were made in 2013 – that showcase the less commercially minded efforts by emerging directors.

Three out of the five segments in this portmanteau are decidedly macabre, including the first, Derek Tsang Kwok-cheung’s Concrete. Following a young cop’s (Pakho Chau Pak-ho) investigation into a family dispute complaint in a deserted residential building, the Twilight Zone-like effort also features an unrecognisable Cecilia Yip Tung and Yanny Chan Wing-yan as a creepy mother and daughter.

Family love then comes in wildly different shapes. While Henri Wong Chi-hang’s A Banquet spends heartwarming time with a single dad (Eddie Cheung Siu-fai) and his young son before they attend his ex-wife’s (Jessica Hsuan) wedding, Wong Chun’s Good Take sees an ageing bit-part actor (Lo Hoi-pang) cling on to the body of his deceased wife, while contemplating playing hero in life at least once before killing himself.

The materialistic excess of Macau comes into focus in Vernie Yeung Lung-ching’s The Solitudes, about the revenge plot of a former nurse (Cherrie Ying Choi-yi) who was forced into prostitution by a callous thug (Sam Lee Chan-sum). The mood lifts slightly in Wong Ching-po’s campy We Are Ghosts, where a derelict building’s new owner (Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin) leads a group of forgotten horror actors to scare off a property repossession company.

Even if the majority of these shorts feel underdeveloped – and consequently less memorable than they could have been – it’s a testament to the talents involved that many of the genre-based stories display intriguing potential to be developed into full-length features. As it stands, Good Take! is fun, if nowhere near essential, viewing.

Good Take! opens on April 14

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