Sunday, October 21, 2007


Original title: Se jie
In Mandarin with English subtitles

Imperial Japan invaded China in July 1937. The Japanese had neither the intention nor the capability to directly administer China. Their goal was to create a friendly puppet government favourable to Japanese interests. From these actions Japan would obtain a secured supply of raw materials and a market to ensure the prosperity of the Japanese home islands. However, the atrocities committed by the Japanese army made the governments that were set up very unpopular.

In conjunction with its military campaign in World War II, Japan invaded Hong Kong the day after the Pearl Harbour attack of December 7, 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with the British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on Christmas day, December 25. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong civilians suffered from widespread food shortages caused by imposed rations and hyperinflation due to the forced exchange of their Chinese currency for military notes.

Tang Wei: Wang Jiazhi, the wife of Mr. Mak, a wealthy Hong Kong businessman
Tony Leung: Mr. Yee, security head of the puppet Chinese government Wang Leehom: Kuang Yumin, young leader of a resistance group

The one thing you need to see this one through is patience. It is long, way too long at 2 hours and 40 minutes. Case in point: the first half-hour is devoted primarily to watching four ladies play mah-jongg while they rattle on about the world around them at such a rate it’s hard to keep up with the subtitles flashing by. Good editing would cut this down to a couple of minutes to include the telling glance Wang Jiazhi gives Mr. Lee. That’s the essence of it. There is no need to drag it out for 30 minutes, when 3 minutes will suffice.

Having set the pace, it continues to advance ever so slowly including lengthy scenes from a student play and a couple of musical interludes that really have nothing to do with the plot. They serve no purpose other than to showcase the talent of these people. But that’s not what we came to see.

Buried in all this is some fine acting, a lot of which is non-verbal. But the overall impression is one of being too long and too weighty.

for several explicit, graphic, prolonged sexual encounters, the hallmark of hardcore pornography.

Some viewers will find it difficult to watch the extended sequence of the knifing about three-quarters of the way through.

No comments: