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2 Young

(left) Eric Tsang and Teresa Mo are the parents to (center left) Jaycee Fong,
while (center right) Fiona Sit has (right) Anthony Wong and Candy Yu as her pop and mom.
Chinese: 早熟  
  Year: 2005  
  Director: Derek Yee Tung-Sing  
  Cast: Jaycee Chan, Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Candace Yu On-On, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, Hui Siu-Hung, Lam Suet, Raymond Tso Wing-Lim, Jamie Luk Kin-Ming, Henry Fong Ping, Chin Kar-Lok, David Chiang, Tommy Yuen Man-On, Candy Hau Woon-Ling
The Skinny: Despite packing zero surprises or originality - and even dipping into mauldlin afterschool special platitudes - 2 Young still turns out to be an entertaining and very watchable drama with fine performances all around. Yes, even from Jaycee Fong. Derek Yee should clone himself and make more movies.
by Kozo:

2 Young looks like a step down for Derek Yee. Last year's Best Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Yee eschews complex themes or clever narratives for this rather generic youth drama. This isn't a tough motion picture with difficult things to say. In fact, everything about 2 Young is simple to the point of probable annoyance. Yet despite that - or maybe even because of it - 2 Young turns out to be an enjoyable and surprisingly engrossing melodrama, and Yee's handling has plenty to do with it. This is nowhere near the heights of Lost in Time or One Nite in Mongkok, but considering HK Cinema's alarming current state, 2 Young is probably one of the best two HK films of the year - so far. It's hard to say if that's a good or bad thing.

Action star progeny Jaycee Fong is Fu, a poor kid who can't finish Form 4, and spends his time playing football with his pals and doing nothing of any import. Fu is attracted to rich princess Nam (singer Fiona Sit in her screen debut), which looks like a bad idea. Not only is she waaay up on the social ladder than he is, but she attends a prestigious girls school, and has not one, but two high-powered lawyers as parents. Fu's parents are completely the opposite: dad (Eric Tsang) is a minibus driver (shades of Lost in Time), and mom (Teresa Mo) works at a restaurant. The most recent Derek Yee produced and directed films (Lost in Time, Crazy N' The City, Driving Miss Wealthy) seem to share a common thread, i.e. an affection for the working class guys and gals in Hong Kong. Basically, it's hard not to like Fu or his parents. Despite being not that smart, Fu is generally a good kid, and his parents may be noisy and rude, but in a lovable, familiar, if not too cartoonish way.

Meanwhile, life in Nam's household is a minefield of propriety and expectations. Her dad (Anthony Wong) is a media-famous barrister, while mom (Candace Yu) has retired so she can follow dad everywhere. Nam sometimes rebels at home, which catches her father's ire. Nonetheless, she's disappointed at her lonely, sad home life and materialistic, shallow girlfriends (who are spoken of, but never seen), so going the full distance to rebel is not out of the question. What that means is she accepts Fu's awkward advances and the two begin to date in blissful, rich-girl-meet-poor-boy style. She's introduced to his life of cheap eats and public football games, and before you know it, the young couple has surpassed first, second, and third base. At the same time, her father begins to get an inkling of her dating habits, which is cause for him to get concerned. Then Nam gets pregnant. Welcome to Hell.

Facing parental disapproval, the kids have precious few choices. Abortion gets tabled quickly, and soon the two choose to make it on their own. Pals get them cheap digs out in the sticks, and from there they basically play house, though with tougher responsibilities and consequences than taking your toys and going home. Fu needs to work, which leads to a variety of realistic and surprisingly interesting problems. Aside from learning to keep a job, Fu also has to contend with stepping on triad toes, uncool bosses, and realizing that maybe he and Nam have nothing really to talk about. Nam has to deal with her new low-income home, which actually is less of an issue than one would think. As played by Fiona Sit, Nam is egregiously chipper about exchanging high-class life for low-class living. Still, the happy-go-lucky attitude Sit puts on gives way to more realistic fears, and when she starts to voice her doubts to her unborn child, the moment is felt. Derek Yee basically lets Jaycee Fong and Fiona Sit act like themselves for all 100 minutes of 2 Young, but it works. They're genuinely likable and seemingly real, and neither carries any movie star baggage with them. It's good that Yee didn't cast Edison Chen and one of the Twins; 2 Young could have been a nightmare.

But it isn't, and this is largely due to Derek Yee and his choice of actors. Yee gives 2 Young little overt artifice. Despite the loaded storyline and scads of moments that seem to echo an afterschool special, most of the interest is found in the day-to-day struggles, relationships, and the individual characters. The quartet of actors playing the parents are exceptional; the performances from Tsang, Mo, Wong, and Yu seem real and complete, such that their individual characters manage to balance out the eventual narrative necessities a film like this has. Eventually, there are big moments, i.e. soapbox speeches that are as alienating as they are unrealistic, and 2 Young manages two in the final fifteen minutes that are so jarring that they threaten to stop the movie cold. One, in particular, involves a character essentially shooting himself in the foot because it's the right thing to do; while this may be true, it's hardly realistic. But the performances work well enough to cover such obviousness.

2 Young has a few other problems. Some plot details are glossed over, and in a film with this much personal detail, the lack of certain explanations can be jarring. Also, the whole feels rather light, which is odd because the film is essentially about social problems and family dysfunction. At the same time, 2 Young manages to be quietly accomplished and involving, and manages a surprising emotional hold on the viewer. Yee's work here isn't truly noteworthy, but the solid storytelling and appreciable humanity make 2 Young a decent, though minor entry in the filmmaker's body of work. Oddly enough, 2 Young is surprising and welcome stuff. Yee takes unexceptional subject matter and wrings something genuinely engaging out of it, which in its own way is cause for minor celebration. Plus, Fiona Sit is all but guaranteed to earn a Best New Artist nomination at next year's Hong Kong Film Awards, and Jaycee Fong demonstrates that perhaps he didn't deserve the universal criticism he got from Twins Effect 2. It seems there are surprises everywhere. (Kozo 2005)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
2-Disc Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen