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June 18th, 2001 Issue #61

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.

(2001; China Star Entertainment Group / One Hundred Years of Film Co. / Sundy Production Company / Nam Yin Production Company): 6/10

Cover art courtesy China Star

Tau hou yan mat

Tou hao ren wu

People Of The Headlines

The world of HK reporters is chronicled in this modest but well-acted drama, which offers three concurrent storylines. Spirited but naive intern Peter Wong (Daniel Wu Yan-zu) arrives from America and is assigned to learn the tricks of the trade from veteran Hong Kong Daily reporter Sorrow (Emil Chow Wah-kin). Any ethics Sorrow possessed have long since fallen by the wayside, as he knows that the only way for a HK reporter to keep his job is to deliver three articles per week...and they had better have a hook that will grab the readers' attention.

Emil Chow (left) and Daniel Wu (right). Image courtesy China Star.

While Sorrow does his best to dodge the eager Peter, Joey (Maggie Cheung Ho-yee) follows a young triad named Ho Wai-keung, who got into trouble for protecting a girl from an attack by some fellow students. Posing as the girl's sister, Joey soon forgets her place and becomes too close to Wai-keung, who has some dark times ahead of him.

Maggie Cheung Ho-yee. Image courtesy China Star.

Meanwhile, Peter is assigned to investigate a traffic accident that left a little orphan boy hospitalized. The victim's sister, Yuen Chi-wai (Grace Yip Pui-man), takes care of her two younger brothers single-handedly, so Peter figures that writing an article will help generate some charity from the public. It also has the unexpected repercussion of bringing the welfare department to Chi-wai's front door; the boys are taken away from her and placed in an orphanage. Peter tries repeatedly to rectify the predicament he has caused but nothing seems to work.

Grace Yip. Image courtesy China Star.

While this is transpiring, Sorrow covers a lavish fashion show, where his old friend, Officer Mak (Wayne Lai Yiu-cheung), is the head of security. The models are decked out in very expensive jewellery and Mak's careful handling of the various anti-theft procedures convinces the backers to use him again for another show. This time, however, he arrives late and the stones are switched with fakes, leaving his career in jeopardy. Sorrow resolves to help catch the true culprits but the particulars of the case are much more intricate than he realizes.

Emil Chow. Image courtesy China Star.

There are no great revelations here and the various resolutions are rather simplistic. Still, the picture's central message about responsibility (whose rights are more important -- those of the public or those of the reporters who are just trying to do their job?) is a worthy one and helps retain interest throughout. Director Leo Heung Lap-hang presents each story in a straightforward and low-key manner, which is actually a nice contrast to the approach one would expect, given that we are meant to see the reporters' lives as fast-paced and wrought with cutthroat competition. The performers all acquit themselves well, particularly Yip (in a nice change-of-pace from the teen idol parts she usually gets) and Lai, and it is the calibre of the acting that ultimately makes the movie above average and worth considering. Simon Lui Yiu-yeung has a supporting role as one of the reporters.

DVD Specs:

China Star #CF40328D
Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Traditional Chinese
12 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.80:1)
Category IIB (for mild violence)
88 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy China Star.

The transfer looks excellent, with a sharp image and very attractive hues, while the sound is hissy but adequate. Unfortunately, compression errors do pop up on occasion (mostly displacement, with a few pronounced instances of smearing). A trailer is included, along with a five minute featurette (in Cantonese with permanent Chinese subtitles) and incomplete, Chinese-only filmographies for Emil Chow, Daniel Wu, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, and Grace Yip.

Maggie Cheung Ho-yee. Image courtesy China Star.

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

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