Film: The Midnight After
Country: Hong Kong
Director: Fruit Chan
It is undeniably a pleasant and tickling experience when a dream girl or boy sits next to you on a bus or plane.
It triggers a secret fantasy that, perhaps, this time this brief encounter may end up being a genuine and lasting romance.
That must have occurred in Ah Chi’s mind when he hops onto a late night mini-bus in Mong Kok for Tai Po — the two most contrasting places in Hong Kong.
Ah Chi finds himself sitting beside the mysterious and exotically attractive Yuki. But what Ah Chi does not yet realize is that this routine hour-long ride will soon turn out to be his eeriest ever.
Ah Chi, Yuki and 14 other passengers are busily fiddling with their smartphones on their bumpy ride, while being totally oblivious of the boisterous abuses that the mini-bus driver has been gleefully spitting while maneuvering fanatically through the chaotic but typical Hong Kong traffic into the Lion Rock Tunnel.
But halfway through its transit into the suburban side of the city, the fully-loaded vehicle is abruptly cut-off from the outside world. The passengers are restless, frustrated to find the voices at the other end of their phones dead-muted almost in concert.
Recovering from their confusion, the passengers gradually come to realize that they may have stumbled into a place which, despite looking identical in every aspect to their world, is totally devoid of living souls….
Have they slipped into the Twilight Zone? Are they being punked? Are they dead?
Then, each person begins to receive cryptic and sinister clues. When they assemble the scattered information together, the answer points to a single source: the summit of Tai Mo Shan — the highest peak in Hong Kong.
For those who think they know Hong Kong inside out, “The Midnight After”, a 2014 film by the Hong kong-based Chinese director Fruit Chan, will show you that this vibrant and dynamic Asian metropolis has much more to offer than a stay at the Four Seasons, a curry dinner inside Chung King Mansion, or a purchase of counterfeit watches on Temple Street.
With clever use of metaphors and symbolism, “The Midnight After” vividly captures the deepest paranoia of the new generation of Hongkongers who are witnessing a constant metamorphosis in the modern age. That is to say they are watching the once colourful city they grew up in — with its diverse lifestyles and free-spirit values — slipping rapidly away from them. What is left for them, they fear, is but an empty and alien shell of what they use to call it — their home.
Admittedly, part of the film can be a bit too verbose and, like the tales of Kafka and Camus, some scenes are blatantly absurd. But this is our world, and perhaps the highlight of the film is the rich authentic flavour in the vernacular used.
The choice of phrases and expressions are most hilarious and unique to Hong Kong. If you can appreciate the nuances of the dialogue, you can proudly boast to your friends that you have undoubtedly matriculated as a master of Cantonese – Hong Kong style, of course.
Before we end, we offer you a challenge during your next visit to Hong Kong: follow the routes traced by the minibus and experience the life of the city through a most candid perspective.
Rating (one to five whistles, five being the best): Three-and-a-half Whistles
How to Watch:
The DVD will be released in Hong Kong on August 28th.
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Lead-in Image Courtesy of Panorama