We all make mistakes. You make them. Bill Clinton made one on a Gap dress. And I sat through mine last Saturday when my friend and I decided to watch the movie Chinese Box. But the mistake was unintentional as we originally planned to watch Bounce Ko Gals, a supposedly excellent Japanese art film. I mean, in all honesty, which would you have chosen to watch after reading the following synopses? Bounce Ko Gals: 'Disturbing story of three Japanese teenagers on a voyage of self-discovery as they work the streets of Tokyo's nightlife district. Directed by Masato Harada.' Chinese Box: 'Wayne Wang tells a story of passion and imperfect love between four people intertwined in Hong Kong. A dying English journalist decides to act on his love for a woman torn between two men, in a city torn between two nations.' Though I have never heard of Harada, I think I have a far greater interest in finding out what 'work the streets of Tokyo's nightlife district' means than what Wang has to say about Hong Kong. Unfortunately, by the time my friend had made her way from Sha Tin to Yau Ma Tei, most of the tickets for the late-afternoon show were already sold, prompting us to think Bounce Ko Gals must be quite, er, 'arty' despite its IIB classification. 'Perhaps I should watch that film by myself later,' I told my friend before suggesting, perhaps too hastily, to watch something else. Chinese Box, I thought, was a good alternative because: 1) it is about Hong Kong; 2) it stars Maggie Cheung Man-yuk; and 3) I was there when the crew were on location outside the Legislative Council on handover night and there was a slight chance I would be in the film, waving at the cameras. When I walked out of the cinema 90 minutes later, I wanted my $50 back. This is one of those movies you should be paid to watch. It does not have much of a plot, the acting is average, and Hong Kong has been misrepresented - again. Only this time the main culprit is Wang - who was born here. I should have been alarmed when I saw the name Paul Theroux in the opening credits. Remember his book Kowloon Tong? That left me and my friends with the impression that Hong Kong was just one big brothel. But I was feeling open-minded and ready to take in whatever director Wang and writers Jean-Claude Carriere and Theroux had to say about 'a city torn between two nations' in the months running up to the handover. Chickens' feet, prostitutes, wet markets, fake Rolex, cheong sam and doom and gloom. In short, Chinese Box contains every possible cliche about Hong Kong. Oh - but maybe I am wrong. I do not think this movie mentions anything about the triads - or did I snooze through that part? In fact, these Suzie Wong stereotypes did not bother me as much as the two women sitting behind us did. In one scene, when Cheung's character explained how her Western boyfriend's family forbade him from having any relationships with local girls, the woman whispered incredulously to her friend: 'Wah! What era is this film set in?' There are other blunders. At some points during the movie I was concentrating so much on spotting the errors that I forgot to watch the film. For instance, while Jeremy Irons' character spoke no Chinese, he wrote a note in Chinese characters. And when he dozed off on a pier after the handover, an old colonial Hong Kong flag was conspicuously seen being hoisted on one passing vessel. Perhaps this is some kind of spoof. Maybe Wang is making a statement here. Like the handover never happened. And the acting? Well, I am not a professional film critic but I could tell Gong Li was not on top form. Did she know what she was doing or saying? At one point she seemed to be struggling with her line and I was screaming in my head: 'Come on, say it. Say it!' Right on cue, her line was something like: 'I can't . . .' How about award-winning actor Michael Hui? The local audience is so used to watching him in comic roles that whatever he did or said in this movie, even during some really touching moments, we laughed. That is kind of sad. My friend is more forgiving and said at least the movie was beautifully filmed, and I thought the scene in which you could see planes flying over Kowloon City showed how time has flown since July 1997. But I was disappointed - I was not in the scene outside Legco. Oh well, at least I am definitely watching Bounce Ko Gals this week.