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Lan Kwai Fong

Lan Kwai Fong

Z.O., Shiga Lin and Jeana Ho get ready to party in Lan Kwai Fong.

Chinese: 喜愛夜浦  
Year: 2011
Director: Wilson Chin Kwok-Wai
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung, Li Kuo-Hsing
Writer: Mark Wu Yiu-Fai, Lam Fung
Cast: Z.O. (Chen Zhi-Ming), Shiga Lin Si-Nga, Jason Chan Pak-Yue, Jeana Ho Pui-Yu, Gregory Wong Chung-Yiu, Dada Chen, Miki Yeung Oi-Gan, Emme Wong Yi-Man, Bonnie Xian, Stephanie Cheng Yung, Sin Lap-Man, Phat Chan, Gary Cheng Ka-Wai, Chrissie Chau Sau-Na, Steven Cheung Chi-Hung, Pakho Chau Pak-Ho, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Ciwi Lam Sze-Man, Phoebe Hui, Jacqueline Chong Si-Man, Race Wong Yuen-Ling, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Sherman Chung Shu-Man, Nelson Cheung Hok-Yun, Det Di Yee-Tat, Bob Lam, Brian Li Pak-Woon, Gary Chiu Cheung-Sing, James Ho Seung-Him, A. Lin, Betrys Kong Yi, Ava Yu Kiu
The Skinny: Empty and entertaining. Lan Kwai Fong is a stylish and shallow look at shallow youth with shallow lives, and it's entertaining if you can tolerate or are exactly like the film's lead characters. Billed as a 21st century update of the 1994 Category III youth drama Twenty Something, but it's not as good.
by Kozo:

The Twenty Something formula gets a tepid update with Lan Kwai Fong, a passably entertaining but overall unimpressive youth drama about hot young adults who party too much. The English title references Hong Kong’s famed Central-located bar district, where locals and expats meet to network, get drunk and have plenty of sex. The characters in Lan Kwai Fong do all three, but the big deal is mostly the last two. This is the story of young people looking for love or sex, or maybe love and sex. The problem is when a person who wants love meets a person who wants only sex, or when two people love one another but one of them has too much sex with others, or when someone pretends not to love someone when they really do love that person. And that’s okay, because they still had sex. You probably lived this movie. It was called college.

Snarky observations on youth culture aside, Lan Kwai Fong does offer some bang for the meager buck. The story concerns a handful of Hong Kongers who like to frequent Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) like, well, all the time. Marketing exec Steven (Taiwan model Z.O.) is a popular player, but after a first night tumble with LKF newbie Jennifer (singer-turned-actress Shiga Lin), the four-letter L-word starts to rear its ugly head. Jennifer's fellow LKF newbie Jeana (lengmo Jeana Ho) enjoys the attention that her off-shoulder garments and generous cleavage gets her, and is soon pinballing from guy-to-guy. Guyliner-wearing Jacky (singer Jason Chan) admires Jeana, but has his own issues with a needy girlfriend (Bonnie Xian) who's always showing up at the wrong time. Lawyer Sean (Gregory Wong) has eyes for only one LKF girl: the super-promiscuous Cat (plus-cup-sized model Dada Chen). However, she could not care less.

Those are the main players in this web of barhopping drama, but there are smaller figures weaving in and out of the loose narrative. Milk (Miki Yeung, formerly of Cookies) lusts after Steven, but he’s oblivious to her affections, while Steven’s boss Leslie (Jun Kung) has his own designs on Jennifer. Other characters include a pragmatic ex-triad (Sin Lap-Man), his longtime admirer (Emme Wong), a materialistic flight attendant (Stephanie Cheng) and an effeminate guy (Gary Cheng) who pretends to be gay in order "play around" with unsuspecting girls. With such a full cast, one wonders how the filmmakers can develop everyone into a well-rounded, three-dimensional character. Not surprisingly, they don't even try, and leave the actors with little to work with besides expected character arcs and chances to show off some PG-13 flesh. The subject matter lends itself to tougher topics than relationship struggles and occasional self-loathing, but the filmmakers don’t go there.

Director Wilson Chin (of Summer Love Love and TVB variety show fame) and screenwriters Mark Wu and Lam Fung (not that Lam Fung) could have gone a darker route. The film's 1994 inspiration, Twenty Something, also portrayed a supposedly edgy view of the Hong Kong youth scene, but backed up that claim with a Category III rating (for nudity and sex), some controversial moments and a felt if literal exploration on the perils of youthful hedonism. Lan Kwai Fong features hedonistic characters, but any exploration of their issues is glib and incredibly superficial. The biggest message this film has – aside from “live now” and “find your true love” – is that bankrupt youth culture is cyclical. These kids will eventually grow out of their irresponsible, self-gratifying ways only to be replaced by another bunch of irresponsible, self-gratifying youngsters. Some characters don't end up happy but nothing surprises or hits hard. Maybe Hong Kong doesn't make many films like Lan Kwai Fong, but this wan commentary is very familiar.

Ultimately, Lan Kwai Fong is a fantasy, providing eye-candy and an easily digestible, faux-mature view of life that the target audience (teens and young adults) should find appealing. Wilson Chin and company get credit for this throwaway product because they never use the hammer; there’s plenty of room for moralizing or over-the-top messages on the shallowness of our lives, but the filmmakers gloss over those things in favor of convenient clichés. They also conveniently gloss over could-be interesting topics like drug use and ever-present foreigners and expats, who should be rubbing elbows nightly with Stephen, Jeana, Cat, etc., because they're always in Lan Kwai Fong too. But addressing those things is what a complex or realistic film might do, and Lan Kwai Fong isn’t complex or realistic. It’s a portrait of shallow, self-involved people for shallow, self-involved people, and the film never tells you that there’s anything wrong with it. Impressionable youngster, Lan Kwai Fong is your roadmap to life.

Where does that leave the rest of us – that is, the people outside of Lan Kwai Fong’s target audience? Nowhere, really. The film is creatively nonexistent and dramatically clichéd, and the actors themselves are largely average or worse. Sin Lap-Man does get a nice juicy rant midway through the film, but besides that the actors mostly trade on their looks. That said, some of the new talent here is notable for their willingness to perform in a daring manner; since many come from modeling, they're used to showing off their bodies, which results in plenty of plunging cleavage, buff chests and bare backs. These more uninhibited actors are a nice change-up from the super-chaste singers and idols we've dealt with over the past decade. 3D Sex and Zen notwithstanding, Hong Kong Cinema could use more sexy films, and if Lan Kwai Fong is a step towards that, then its existence can only be a good thing. As a film itself, well, we can let it slide. (Kozo, 2011)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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