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Made in Hong Kong (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray Review)

Made in Hong Kong (Eureka) Blu-rayThis 1997 film by Fruit Chan, Made in Hong Kong, was done on a low budget and filmed on discarded reels of 35mm film. Its low budget and seat-of-your-pants production methods belie its visual beauty.

The film follows low-level Triad member Moon (Sam Lee) a disenchanted teen who can’t hold a job and spends his days hustling others for cash and watching over his mentally challenged friend Sylvester (Wenders Li). Moon’s life takes a turn when he meets the beautiful and fatally ill Ping (Neiky Hui-Chi Yim) who is waiting on an organ transplant to save her life. Moon claims to be instantly in love and willing to do anything to help save her including donate his own kidney if he is a match. But their journey to learning about each other really begins when the friends witness a girl commit suicide and they find two bloodstained letters on her person that they intend to deliver.

Chan’s film is a journey through the forgotten places of Hong Kong, the dark corners and hidden spaces far from the glitzy neon signs and financial hubs that the world tends to see and think of. It goes behind the scenes, so to speak, and into the slums or the working poor, the castaways, the angry youths, the sickly elderly, the hammer-fisted Triads and the desperate who are burdened by debt.

The film varies between often gorgeous wide-angle shots with deep focus and frenzied, handheld cameras with tight focus, the latter giving that sense of urban congestion and kinetic energy that anyone who has lived in or grown up in a big city can identify with. These are interspersed with beautiful, meditative images like the breeze blowing through drapes in a window or a fan blade casting its shadow across a darkened room.

It must be noted that the non-professionals who anchor this cast do a splendid job as well, particularly Sam Lee who puts on a brilliant performance as the angry and listless young man.

How this film ever dropped into obscurity is beyond perplexing, but with this 2017 restoration and now this new Masters of Cinema release, the first ever in the UK, hopefully a reawakening to its pleasures will be spurred and it will not lapse into oblivion again.

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The Video

Eureka brings Made in Hong to Blu-ray from a 4K restoration of the film, presumably the same one that was done in 2017 as there is no indication this is a brand-new restoration for 2020. The film appears on disc in a 1080p AVC HD transfer framed at 1.85:1. This is a strange film given its differing color palettes and filming techniques. It varies from an almost monochromatic, bluish and desaturated hue to a warmer, more colorful tone where reds can even seem just a tad pushed. There is one thing consistent and that is the white levels tend to blow out a bit and clip. Having never seen this film before I can’t compare it to anything to say this is the restoration or transfer or this is artistic intent, but if I were to hazard a guess, I would say it was the latter as this is a very stylistic film visually. The film grain is natural and can at times be a little on the coarse side, but this is again due to the filming techniques and somewhat low budget production. It never takes away from the detail and enjoyability of the visual aesthetic of the film.

The Audio

The original monaural Cantonese soundtrack for Made in Hong Kong is included in LPCM 1.0 on this Blu-ray release from Eureka. It doesn’t provide the greatest sound quality and can often sound a little bit muffled, but it is authentic and good enough to allow for getting into this dialogue-driven film.

The Supplements

There are a number of new interviews worth watching and an excellent booklet with writing from the always on-point Tony Rayns, who, sadly, does not provide a commentary or visual essay this time out, but comes through with a superb essay.

  • Fruit Chan Interview (1080p; 00:47:20) – An interview with the director filmed in 2020
  • Doris Yang Interview (1080p; 00:07:15) –An interview with the producer filmed in 2020
  • Daniel Yu Interview (1080p; 00:12:54) – An interview with the producer filmed in 2020
  • Marco Müller Interview (1080p; 00:04:29) – An interview with the former director of the Locarno Film Festival filmed in 2020
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Tony Rayns; and an archival interview with director Fruit Chan

The Final Assessment

Eureka’s Masters of Cinema provide an excellent opportunity for Hong Kong cinema fans to see a brilliant film that has flown under the radar far too long. Go out and grab this one while you can.

Made in Hong Kong is out on Blu-ray in the UK 21 September 2020 from Eureka Entertainment

  • The Creative Content: 4.0/5
  • The Video: 4.0/5
  • The Audio: 3.5/5
  • The Supplements: 3.5/5
  • Rating Certificate: UK: 15
  • Studios & Distributors: Nicetop Independent Ltd. | Team Work Production House | Eureka Entertainment
  • Director: Fruit Chan
  • Written By: Fruit Chan
  • Run Time: 108 Mins.
  • Street Date: 21 September 2020
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Cantonese LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English

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