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January 14th, 2002 Issue #91

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

Funeral March
(2001; Emperor Multimedia Group / Singing Horse Production)

Cover art courtesy Universe.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Seung joi ngor sum
Mandarin: Chang zai wor xin
English: Always In My Heart


Diagnosed with terminal cancer, young, affluent Kwun-yee (Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin from the girl group, Twins) decides to plan her own funeral and chooses Duan (Eason Chan Yik-shun) to handle the arrangements. Part of his contract requires that he accompany her and family lawyer Elsa (Sheila Chan Sak-lan) to New York for a week. Although the girl's father (Kenneth Tsang Kong) requests that she agree to have an operation, regardless of what her diagnosis is, Kwun-yee refuses and morbidly goes about her plans. Duan eventually convinces the girl that she should return home and undergo the procedure. Kwun-yee starts taking her medication again and the operation is a success. She regards Duan as her "life-belt" but he begins avoiding the girl, his way of telling her that she needs to stand on her own two feet.

Charlene Choi (left) and Eason Chan (right). Image courtesy Universe.

This is a gentle and comparatively even-handed entry in HK's enduring "terminal beauty" sub-genre, with handsome cinematography by Ko Chiu-lam (GREEN SNAKE) and an especially lovely piano and violin score by Lincoln Lo Kin. The screenplay (co-authored by Anthony Chan Kam-chuen, Sunny Chan Wing-sun, and the film's director, Joe Ma Wai-ho) falls prey to some of the usual cliches but nicely sidesteps others and, on the whole, displays a subtlety that has been mostly absent from Ma's work in recent years. It also helps that Choi and Chan are so personable, making it easier to swallow the sentimental "live life to its fullest" maxim these films always convey. Liu Kai-chi and Pauline Yam Bo-lam co-star.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5891
Sync Sound Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0) and Dubbed Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
Letterboxed (1.85:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
97 Minutes
Contains mature themes but no objectionable material

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Australia: PG (Adult Themes, Low Level Violence)
British Columbia: PG
Hong Kong: I*
Singapore: PG

* This is the rating displayed on the packaging but it may be inaccurate as the theatrical version was rated IIA.


The transfer is crisp and colors are deep when intended to be (the visuals are mostly subdued by design). As befitting the subject matter, the sound mix is moderate, with only the score really coming across with much force. The 2.0 Cantonese track (the default audio) is raspy and poorly balanced but the 5.1 option is smooth and appealing, with more distinct separations. Extras consist of a trailer and a section labelled "Deleted Scene" that actually contains 15 minutes of material (in Cantonese with no subtitle options). There are actually only two deleted scenes; the remainder are extended versions of sequences included in the final cut. The extra footage fleshes out the characters a bit more and, in particular, explains why Sheila Chan's character acts the way she does. FUNERAL MARCH's New York scenes were shot in August and the film included a shot of the World Trade Center in its original assembly. The producers decided to remove it prior to release but that brief bit of footage has been included in this section. Star Files on Chan, Choi, and Ma round out the extras.

FUNERAL MARCH is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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