2007 HKIFF : Part 1


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The Italian a.k.a. Italianetz (Space Museum) Director : Andrei Kravchek / Cast : Koyla Spiridonov – In a Russian orphanage, 6 year-old Vanya is adopted by an Italian couple. But when a mother turns up at their home looking for her son, Vanya begins to wonder about the whereabouts of his own mother. The Italian does not really deviate from the establish formula for “orphan” pictures first established by Dickens’ Oliver Twist. So no real originality here. But what we do have is a gruelling look at a poverty stricken modern Russia and a utterly convincing performance by child actor Koyla Spiridonov. Recommended.

Retribution a.k.a Sakebi (UA Times Square) Director : Kurosawa Kiyoshi / Cast : Yakusho Koji – I went to this film based on the synopsis in the programme guide, and it was a sold-out show. Best known for his role in Japanese romance Shall We Dance, Yakusho Koji stars as a detective who is assigned to a case where the evidence seems to reveal he is involved in murder. But behind the evidence lurks supernatural forces. Retribution seems to be a police drama cum horror thriller, but unfortunately it succeeds at neither. I found the film overlong and dull. Most of the viewers in the cinema laughed at several of the scenes; I don’t think the director meant for those moments to be comedy. Not recommended.

Love and Honor a.k.a Bushi no Ichibun (Cultural Centre) Director : Yamada Yoji / Cast: Kimura Takuya, Dan Rei – The final instalment of noted director Yamada Yoji’s samurai films exploring honor, relationships and class in feudal Japan, the Gala Presentation of Bushi no Ichibun was packed with female fans of Japanese heartthrob Kimura Takuya, who plays a samurai who tests his lord’s meals for poison. One day, his samples a toxic sashimi and loses his sight. As financial crisis looms over his household since he can no longer work, his beautiful wife is taken advantage of by a high ranking samurai, and the blind samurai decides to challenge his ex-superior to a duel to protect the honor of his wife. Compared to the director’s first film in the trilogy Twilight Samurai, Love and Honor seems more pedestrian and offers few surprises. Kimura Takuya is his usual self and is nowhere as convincing as Hiroyuki Sanada as a low ranking samurai. Still this is a very good drama with a nice touch of comedy.

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