House of the Rising Sons film review: The Wynners’ origin tale proves a charming music comedy

Hong Kong band beloved in the 1970s and still playing today are the subject of this amusing and introspective film, co-written and directed by the group’s drummer, Anthony Chan Yau

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 6:51pm

3/5 stars

It could easily have been a self-congratulatory vanity project, yet this colourful origin tale of the hugely popular 1970s Hong Kong band The Wynners proves a surprisingly amusing – and at times admirably introspective – music drama that might just win over a few neutrals.

Co-written and directed by The Wynners’ drummer, Anthony Chan Yau – whose only memorable film credit in the past 25 years came in an oddly effective role, as a retired vampire hunter, in Juno Mak’s horror Rigor Mortis (2013) – House of the Rising Sons is that rare celebrity biopic with no sex, no drugs and only a healthy dose of rock 'n' roll.

The Wynners’ drummer on directing a film about the iconic Hong Kong band

This affectionate, nostalgic ode to dreams and friendship offers a mostly sunny account of the pop-rock group’s career, from their beginnings as a neighbourhood garage band – the nuisance they caused is cartoonishly conveyed in the hammy early scenes – to their later struggle to cope with its two vocalists’ plans to pursue solo careers.

Played respectively by Taiwanese boy band member Eugene Tang and Tianjin musician Tan Yu Tian, the pop idols Alan Tam Wing-lun and Kenny Bee pale in interest compared to The Wynners’ other members in the film, which takes time to shed light on the latter’s mundane attempts to make a living while their more popular “brothers” rose to stardom.

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Young Hong Kong actors Carlos Chan Ka-lok ( Happiness , Buyer Beware ) and Lam Yiu-sing ( Weeds on Fire ) both bring life to the story as the band’s guitarist, Bennett Pang Kin-san, and bassist, Danny Yip Chi-keung, while drummer Ng Hok-him, formerly of the local indie band Silhungmo, portrays the younger Anthony Chan with bemused, deadpan cool.

The film’s most poignant note arrives with real-life concert footage towards the end, in which all five members of The Wynners reminisce about how they’ve managed to stick together – they have never disbanded and still reunite for concerts every few years. For the uninitiated, that may feel like the most miraculous reveal of them all.

House of the Rising Sons opens on July 19

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