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Escape From Hong Kong Island

(left) Jordan Chan and Chapman To, and (right) Chan and Coco Chiang.
Year: 2004
Director: Simon Lui Yu-Yeung
Producer: Raymond Wong Bak-Ming, Peter Chan Chi-Keung
Writer: Simon Lui Yu-Yeung
Cast: Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Chapman To Man-Chat, Paul Wong Koon-Chung, Steve Wong Ka-Keung, Yip Sai-Wing, Law Kar-Ying, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Jim Chim Sui-Man, Coco Chiang Yi, Monica Lo Suk-Yi, Nelson Cheung Hok-Yun, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Lee Fung, Leung Wing-Chung, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun, Cheung Tat-Ming, Emily Kwan Bo-Wai, Tin Kai-Man
  The Skinny: Director/writer Simon Lui goes nowhere untravelled in this uneven satirical comedy, and the film is cheaply made to boot. Still, Escape From Hong Kong Island possesses a minor wit and a worthy enough message to make it passable stuff. Just don't expect art—or even a reasonable facsimile of it.
by Kozo:

     Jordan Chan attempts to cross Victoria Harbour in the satirical comedy Escape From Hong Kong Island, directed and written by triple-terror writer/director/actor Simon Lui Yu-Yeung. Chan is Raymond Mak, a despicable "Master of the Universe" stock trader who gets handed a day from Hell. First he's fired by his boss (Law Kar-Ying), then he's robbed by a harried businessman (Paul Wong of rock band Beyond). Raymond already has a new job lined up across the harbour, but getting from Wanchai to Tsimshatsui requires at least three dollars for the ferry, or more for the MTR or a taxi. But without any cash or ID, Raymond will have to call in a favor or two. Too bad he's a major prick; folks begin lining up to screw him out of an easy handout, and even the cops (personified by ubiquitous Chapman To) seem to have it in for him. With a deadline of 5:00 p.m. fast approaching, Raymond needs a solution to get across the harbour. But can he overcome his past misdeeds to earn even some minor charity?
     Writer/director Simon Lui's minor satire comes with a loaded message: be a better person and maybe you won't be screwed when you have a bad day. Jordan Chan's Raymond Mak is a complete bastard of a man, who'll screw the best friend of his girlfriend Candy Lo (played by Coco Chiang, and not the real Candy Lo) while she's away from their lunch table. Raymond also dumps his mother in a retirement home and neglects her, ignores his brother (Cheung Tat-Ming) and sister (Barbara Wong) until he needs some dough, and is generally mean and abusive towards every other person he knows in the universe. Obviously Raymond deserves a comeuppance, and unsurprisingly he gets it. Raymond's humbling by Hong Kong Island—and whatever gods control the region's good or bad fortune—is all-inclusive and accounts for a good 80% of the film's comedy. Bureaucracy (Jim Chim as a dopey bank employee, Chapman To's aforementioned cop), bad fortune (getting mugged, getting stiffed with a lunch bill), and general silly stuff (losing his chance at a five dollar coin, sperm donation problems) all add up to amusing, if not repetitive chances at comedy. It's great that Raymond will be thwarted at every chance to make it across the Harbour, but after a while the joke threatens to get old.
     It does get old, but there are other things to keep the film going. The biggest potential problem for a film like Escape From Hong Kong Island is making its "hero" too much of a jerkoff. If the audience hates the guy, chances are they won't care if he finds redemption or not. Jordan Chan has always been a likable actor, so it's possible for him to engender sympathy even though Raymond Mak clearly doesn't. Chan's performance isn't truly noteworthy, but he's a game performer and manages to make Raymond's emotional journey a felt one. Simon Lui goes uneven with his direction, using overdone music cues, heavy overacting, and lots of droll long takes to portray his satire, and the film more or less succeeds at getting its messages across. It's also needlessly cheap-looking, and distracts with an overreliance on cameos and name-dropping. Thanks to the poor production values and generally all-over-the-map acting, labeling Escape From Hong Kong Island as "crap" could be an easy, though possibly hasty call. Ultimately, there's enough effort on Simon Lui's part to make this a minor, but suitably amusing little flick. (Kozo 2004)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Various extras

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen