Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

January 11th, 2001 Issue #42

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.

The Warning Time
(2000; Winson Entertainment Production / Tomorrow Dragon): 5/10

Cover art courtesy Winson.
Tit nam boon sik

Ti nan ben si

The Mettle Of A Man

Roy Cheung Yiu-yeung, Vincent Wan Yeung-ming, and Tommy Wong Kwong-leung (left to right). Image courtesy Winson.

Veteran actor Vincent Wan Yeung-ming made his debut behind the camera by co-directing (with Lam Kin-lung) this underworld drama, which features a better cast than one often finds in productions of this sort. After spending exactly half of his life in jail, 36 year-old triad Choi (Wan) is released and rents a room from some teenagers running a credit card scam. Re-uniting with buddies Shark (Roy Cheung Yiu-yeung) and Big Nose (Tommy Wong Kwong-leung), Choi sets out in search of his old girlfriend, Lotus Ho (Carrie Ng Kar-lai). Choi was incarcerated for murdering a man attempting to rape Lotus eighteen years earlier but she has since gotten married and will not have anything to do with him. One of the kids Choi lives with is the son of mob boss Sik (Yu Rongguang, who has now adopted the English name Ringo) and when the boy overdoses during a rave party, Choi stabs himself in the leg to save the kids from being harmed in retribution.

Carrie Ng Kar-lai. Image courtesy Winson.

While at the boss' mansion, Choi discovers that Lotus is married to Sik and that the dead boy was her son. Regardless, Choi agrees to be his rival's driver, which gives him an excuse to be near Lotus. The increased contact reawakens the woman's feelings for him but Sik eventually learns of their affair.

Ringo Yu Rongguang. Image courtesy Winson.

Deliberately paced and content to operate on a small scale, THE WARNING TIME will disappoint those looking for the cheap thrills triad movies usually supply in excess. There are no action sequences and, outside of some drug use during a rave party, no exploitation elements whatsoever. The screenplay (co-written by Wan and Lam) is interested in examining and contrasting the lives of the young and middle-aged protagonists and is occasionally insightful. Unfortunately, while the film's goals are commendable, its accomplishments are meagre, which may be due in part to production problems (the film's plot description in the hk-imail interview linked below is significantly different from what ultimately made it onscreen). On a positive note, the star elicits good performances from his cast (particularly Carrie Ng, who adds real sensitivity and depth to her cliched character) and the score is well above average. Wan has nothing to be embarrassed of here but, should he wish to try his hand at directing again, a more interesting and solid foundation should be the first step. Elvis Tsui Kam-kong, Jamie Luk Kim-ming, and Bryan Leung Kar-yan appear briefly. Yvonne Yung Hung is also listed in the credits but she apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.

Roy Cheung and Ringo Yu. Image courtesy Winson.

DVD Specs:

Winson #WDV 3045T
Dolby Digital (2.0 and 5.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.85:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for drug use and mild violence)
92 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Winson.

The transfer is on the dark side with weak contrasts but colors are passable and the image is sharp. The print suffers from light speckling throughout. The sync sound on the Cantonese track is strong, with little difference between the 2.0 and 5.1 tracks, save for some reverb on the latter; the Mandarin versions are flatter. The English subtitles stray out of sync for a few minutes in the second half but conversations remain coherent. A trailer is the only extra.

The aforementioned Vincent Wan interview can be found at:

Vincent Wan and friends. Image courtesy Winson.

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

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