HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Azor
Night Raiders
Samourai, Le
Advent Calendar, The
Champion
Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Love of Jeanne Ney, The
Blonde. Purple
Dirty Ho
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
   
 
Newest Articles
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
   
 
  Family Light Affair Lost in Hong Kong
Year: 1984
Director: Alfred Cheung
Stars: Anthony Chan, Kara Hui Ying-hung, Ng Wing-Kei, Chiu Man-Yan, Ku Feng, Lo Lieh, Bill Tung, Alfred Cheung, Leung Chung-Ming
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shaw Brothers studios produced this seriocomic fable about a family of mainland Chinese immigrants struggling on the streets of Hong Kong. When Pai (Anthony Chan) arrives in HK with wife Ah Yin (Kara Hui Ying-hung) and daughters Xiao Mei (Chiu Man-Yan) and Ti Ti (Ng Wing-Kei) in tow, he expects his father Chen Mu Ke (Ku Feng) to greet them. But the old man is struggling to get by as it is and swiftly flees the scene. They eventually track him down to an immigrant shelter that is little more than a cage the size of a chicken coop. After spending their last pennies on a single meal, wherein the starving Ah Yin stabs a dog with her chopsticks so she can eat the scraps off the floor, the family lose their shelter and thereafter sleep on the street inside an abandoned wardrobe. Chen expires from pneumonia shortly thereafter, leaving the family to fend for themselves. Hopelessly lost, frightened and confused amidst this bustling city of lights, the family stumble from one madcap misfortune to another.

Based on the above synopsis, Family Light Affair (whose Chinese title translates literally as: City Lights) might not sound like a bundle of laughs, but while a handful of bleakly comic episodes cross the line into bad taste (e.g. the family mistakenly eat their dead fathers ashes; hug a dead child they've mistaken for Ti Ti to the horror of its bereaved parents; a sleeping Ah Yin is groped by a drunk British businessman and Pai idiotically demands to know whether she enjoyed it), the film makes a number of pertinent points about HK street life in the bubble economy driven Eighties. It's a laughing on the outside, crying on the inside kind of comedy, while the spirit of Charlie Chaplin hovers over its socially conscious slapstick. Most evident in a dream sequence wherein the family imagine themselves as nouveau riche diners at a swanky restaurant, only to awaken to find they've been sleepwalking through a fancy eaterie.

This was the second movie made by writer-director Alfred Cheung, who scripted a number of groundbreaking New Wave films including The Saviour (1980) by Ronny Yu and The Story of Wu Viet (1981) co-written and directed by Ann Hui, before scoring his first major hit with Let's Make Laugh (1983). Once dubbed the Fran├žois Truffaut of Hong Kong, many of Cheung's comedies have a socially conscious bent, as does his amazing hard-edged crime thriller On the Run (1989). Cheung scored a huge hit with Her Fatal Ways (1990) and its sequels, but failed to launch an international career with Manhattan Midnight (2002) starring Richard Grieco and Maggie Q.

As in Let's Make Laugh, Cheung's co-producer and leading man is Anthony Chan, onetime drummer with hugely popular Cantopop group The Wynners. The Wynners headlined their own movie musical Let's Rock (1975), but are best known in the west for being parodied by Jackie Chan as The Losers in Armour of God (1986), which co-starred lead singer Alan Tam and featured Chan and bandmate Kenny Bee in cameos. Together with Kenny Bee and Alfred Cheung, Chan formed a production comedy for which he went on to direct a string of sex comedies like Mr. Virgin (1984), Carry On Doctors and Nurses (1985), and Happy Bigamist (1987), culminating in his far more ambitious project A Fishy Story (1989), for which Maggie Cheung won the best actress prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Chan emigrated to the US after retiring from the film industry, but reportedly now runs a business in China.

Some of what unfolds in Family Light Affair occasionally evokes comparison with John Ford's Tobacco Road, a similarly well-intentioned but too broadly comic tale of simple folk. There is something regrettably patronising in yoking laughs from clueless country bumpkins, but a lot of the humour highlights their plight: the family put on a pathetic spectacle trying to convince yuppie diners to spare some food; the attempt to pass Ti Ti off as a cripple; a homeless man's delight at being paralysed since it gets him off the street into a nice warm hospital bed.

Most shocking perhaps is how childish and selfish the grown-ups often seem, over-excited, prone to temper tantrums and squabbling over food. When Chen dies, Ah Yin bemoans the inconvenience, contemplating whether they can latch on to another father. Although cynical, there is a ring of honesty here, underlining how extreme poverty can drive some people to do desperate things, regardless of dignity or morality. An additional satirical layer arises from the fact that most of Pai's mishaps are caused by his inability to trust authority figures, whom he mistakes for their corrupt mainland equivalents. Alfred Cheung lightens the mood with a number of rather more surreal japes, including one laugh-out-loud moment when cops chase the perpetually solemn-faced Xiao Mei who unexpectedly spins into a kung fu stance and kicks their asses.

An eclectic cast of kung fu icons shine in atypical roles, including superstar Kara Hui Ying-hung who was Shaw Brothers top martial arts diva at the time. Lo Lieh again demonstrates his remarkable range, playing a blind homeless street vendor ("I lost my sight in '68. Just when bar girls started wearing miniskirts, god damn it!") and Bill Tung - a regular in the Police Story (1985) series - plays a blind street musician forever boasting about his Pierre Cardin belt ("Once I was unemployed, now I'm a beggar! I've come up in the world!"). Events climax when Pai and Ah Yin stage a botched robbery that turns into a standoff with HK police as they take an Indian security guard hostage. Perpetually hungry, their demands include food, but the Sikh turns down their offer of a curry "(Please, let it be duck in hoi sin sauce, I'm sick of curry!"). Thereafter, Cheung leaves it open ended whether the family return home to their meagre homestead or try to make a go of it in Hong Kong. An uncertain end for uncertain times, keeping in mind this was the year Britain finally set a date to handover Hong Kong to mainland China.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4908 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: