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Sleepless Town
Year: 1998
Takeshi Kaneshiro and Mirai Yamamoto
Director: Lee Chi-Ngai
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Mirai Yamamoto (San Boon Mei Loi), Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Sihung Lung, Kathy Chow Hoi-Mei
The Skinny: Set in Japan, this entertaining crime thriller from former UFO director Lee Chi-Ngai makes good use of its gorgeous location and star Takeshi Kaneshiro.
Review
by Kozo:
     Sleepless Town isn't really a Hong Kong film, but since it features a largely HK crew it makes the cut. Lee Chi-Ngai directed this modern noir set in Japan. Takeshi Kaneshiro stars as Kenichi Lau, a Chinese-Japanese half-breed who makes a living trafficking in stolen goods. Three days before Chinese New Year, he finds himself in the midst of a brewing gang war among the various Chinese gangs. 
     The players are too hard to list without a detailed scorecard, but among them are such HK luminaries as Eric Tsang and Kathy Chow. Also, Ang Lee fave Lung Si-Hung shows up as Yang, Kenichiís adopted father. Kenichi is charged with finding his old partner, who was responsible for killing the right-hand man of crime boss Yuan (Eric Tsang). Meanwhile, a mysterious woman named Natsumi (Mirai Yamamoto of Jackie Chanís Who Am I) shows up in Kenichiís life proffering a rare item for sale. Can she be trusted? 
     Despite the excellent production values and thoughtful storytelling, this is basically just a standard crime thriller. It accomplishes nothing more than entertainment, albeit good entertainment. Kaneshiro is the perfect choice for this role due to his fluency in Mandarin and Japanese. He carries himself well, but itís a difficult part. Heís not able to use his abundant charm with Kenichi, whoís as brooding and intense as they come. Mirai Yamamoto fares better, giving some emotional ambiguity to her character. 
     Helping matters are the cinematography and production design, which are both excellent. However, this is a step down for Lee Chi-Ngai, who canít inject his pet themes into Sleepless Town unlike his previous films Lost and Found, and Dr. Mack. Thatís what happens when you direct-for-hire, but heís still an excellent director. This is a compromise, but not a bad one. (Kozo 1998)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Ocean Shores Video
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Ocean Shores Licensing Ltd.

   
 
 
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