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December 28th, 2000 Issue #37

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

High K
(2000; Universe Films Distribution Company / Buddy Film Creative Workshop): 4/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Gai nui

Jie nu

Street Girl

Kara Hui Ying-hung (left) and Sherming Yiu Lok-yi (right). Image courtesy Universe.

While on their way to the airport, Lee Yi-hong (Kara Hui Ying-hung) and her 17 year-old daughter, CoCo Young (Sherming Yiu Lok-yi, who also served as associate producer), are in an accident and the former is fatally injured. Before she passes away, Yi-hong makes her ex-husband, police officer Zeng (Ti Lung), promise that he will spend more time with their daughter.

Ti Lung and Kara Hui. Image courtesy Universe.

Decidedly old-fashioned in his approach to parenting, Zeng alienates CoCo almost immediately and she rebels by disappearing for days at a time, attending rave parties, and taking drugs. When CoCo's teacher complains to Zeng about the girl's behavior, she quits school and starts hanging out with triads. Desperate to try and halt the downward spiral the girl is on, Zeng decides to leave the force, hoping that he can win his daughter back by being at home more and finding some common ground. When CoCo's boyfriend gets in way over his head with a local gang boss, Zeng is unable to help and this sets in motion a series of events that put father and daughter in serious trouble.

Sherming Yiu Lok-Yi. Image courtesy Universe.

HIGH K is another offering from Buddy Film Creative Workshop (PARAMOUNT MOTEL, KILLER, LAST GHOST STANDING), and director Billy Chung Siu-hung, boasting the aggressive visuals one has come to expect from this team. As can be deduced from the synopsis, this is an unabashedly melodramatic enterprise that is reminiscent, in some ways, of Ringo Lam's 1988 classic SCHOOL ON FIRE. Unfortunately, it is not as solidly plotted as that film and is in no way as realistic or powerful as Lawrence Ah Mon's GANGS and SPACKED OUT, still the best portraits of troubled HK youth. While fairly involving for its first two acts, HIGH K eventually grows too exaggerated to sustain credibility and even soul-baring performances from Ti Lung and Sherming Yiu ultimately fail to get it back on track. Christine Ng Wing-mei (as Zeng's partner) and Frankie Ng Chi-hung (as a triad boss who does not know how to deal with the young upstarts out to take his territory) co-star.

Christine Ng Wing-mei and Ti Lung. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5416
Dolby Digital Mono (2.0)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English, Chinese (Traditional or Simplified), and Bahasa (Malyasia)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.78:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for rampant drug use, mid-range violence, brief non-explicit sexual violence, and mild sexual content)
85 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

The transfer is derived from a mint condition print and looks nice, with strong colors, though contrasts are weak in spots; the forceful mix would have benefitted from a stereo presentation but is fine within its limitations. There is a brief sound dropout at 27:36 on the Cantonese track. The terrific theatrical trailer, trailers for QUEENIE & KING THE LOVERS, DIAL D FOR DEMONS, and KILLER, and a Star File on Ti Lung make up the extras.

Ti Lung and ShermingYiu. Image courtesy Universe.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review