Film review: Anti-heroes rise above in Doomsday Party
Starring: Paul Wong Koon-chung, Kay Tse On-kei, Kelvin Kwan Chor-yiu, Teddy Robin Kwan Wai-pang, Wilfred Lau Ho-lung
Director: Ho Hong
Category: IIB (Cantonese)
So many characters and subplots are introduced in the first 10 minutes of Doomsday Party that there is a worry that debut director Ho Hong's fast-paced drama will leave viewers confused and befuddled.
There is a lot of switching back and forth between different people and their stories throughout this film about several troubled souls whose paths fatefully cross in a bank where an attempted heist takes place. Still, some personalities are fleshed out enough to become distinct enough to evoke sympathy or empathy.
In a more conventional movie, Paul Wong Koon-chung's character would have the most screen time. A good cop and decent man, he discovers that he's suffering from glaucoma as he pines for his pretty bank clerk ex-girlfriend Wan Yee (Kay Tse On-kei), who now lives with smooth-talking English language tutor Victor Lo (Wilfred Lau Ho-lung).
But this is a film that identifies more with those who are dissatisfied and angry at society. So it's Lang (Kelvin Kwan Chor-yiu), a college dropout who has taken to making home-made bombs, and a young woman (Fish Liew Ziyu) he first sees being roughly treated by a gang of parallel traders, who become the film's main anti-heroes.
And it's not just the youth who are disaffected. Impoverished ex-teacher Mr Yue (Teddy Robin Kwan Wai-pang) looks to be the most unhappy with his lot in life, while councillor Ho (Cheung Kwok-keung) has an extramarital affair with a wealthy widow (Maggie Chan Mei-kei), but ends it because he fears it could affect his re-election bid.
With so much doom and gloom pervading Doomsday Party's proceedings, the movie can seem more of a party pooper. But although its message about how society looks to be failing many people is not a happy one, there's still something heartening about the very existence of a local movie whose director shines a spotlight on contemporary concerns.
The film's tone is heavy-handed at times, and some plot threads are never satisfactorily resolved. Nonetheless, Ho, who directed, wrote and co-produced the film, is to be commended for an ambitious work packed with substantive content and believable characters.
Ho's film benefits from the input of veterans such as cinematographer Cheng Siu-keung, editor Wenders Li Tung-chuen and Teddy Robin, who co-produced it and composed the score, as well as putting in a striking onscreen performance. And although the likes of Paul Wong, Kay Tse and Kelvin Kwan are more established in the music business, they acquit themselves well in their roles.
Doomsday Party opens on November 28