Hollywood Hong Kong (2001)

October 11, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Director, Writer, Producer: Fruit Chan
Producers: Doris Yang, Kei Haruna, Sylvain Bursztein
Cast: Zhou Xun, Glen Chin, Wong You-Nam, Ho Sai-Man, Leung Sze-Ping

Language: Cantonese
Running Time: 102 min

Venice Film Festival 2001
Sundance Film Festival 2002
AFM 2002
Cannes 2002

Golden Horse, Best Director
Golden Horse, Best Costume/Makeup
Golden Horse, Best Sound Effects

14 Nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Glen Chin) and Best Acress (Zhou Xun)

The arrival of a sensual beauty from mainland China sparks a surge of excitement in the impoverished neighbourhood of Hollywood, Hong Kong. Chaos begins to stir in the nearby roast pork shop run by an obese man and his two sons and things heat up when a young gangster falls in love with her. Cheated of love and money, the men will face uncertain futures as their shanty-town approaches its imminent demolition while the various faces of the mysterious femme fatale are gradually unveiled.

Close-ups of rough pig skin, pig’s legs spread wide apart fading into women’s legs, the city traffic at both the beginning and the end of ‘HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG’ by Fruit Chan is charged with color (plenty of red, the yellow of the head-lights , and blue) with speeded -up images. Fat men look like the pigs they own, and a female doctor looks after both. A young prostitute who lives in a luxury condo called ‘Hollywood’, makes love with everyone, including the obese inhabitants of the shanty town; they in turn watch the girl on the swing and the scene is transformed into sky; this is the only scene in the film drained of color. Are they dreaming of Love? Of America? ‘HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG’ is the second part of a tryptich on the prostitutes and the ups and downs of a post-capitalist megalopolis, whose first part, ‘Durian Durian’ was shown in Venice last year. “The reason there are no women in the pig breeder’s family”, the director explains, “is that the treatment of the animals as human beings is related to the arrival of the young prostitute and the innocent and almost angelic vision that is projected onto her.” The scene of the swing is purposefully over-exposed, to help the visionary essence emerge: “To highlight the rich and poor parts of the city, I used color like fashion, mixing and merging various solutions”. Shooting finished in September last year and cost a million dollars, and is both a symbol of the recession in Hong Kong and a warning to its inhabitants. “The economic recession that struck the city in 1997” Fruit Chan adds, “has worsened; the shanty towns continue to grow and the gap between rich and poor is increasing. The final part of the trilogy will focus on these problems. I want to warn people in Hong Kong: if you want to survive you’ll have to work hard and regenerate”.

—Lara Nicoli, Venice Film Festival

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