Designed to reflect the 'drama' of the hand over of Hong Kong, Wang's semi-improvised movie was partly scuppered by the fact that nothing striking happened when China reclaimed its 'Special Administrative Region' on 1 July 1997. But it's hard to imagine that the film would have worked out better if there'd been riots on the streets, despite the big names (Theroux, Carrière) on the credits. Irons plays a foreign correspondent dying in synch with the British administration, obsessed with both Gong Li (manager of a chic bar/cheap hooker - evidently representing China) and Maggie Cheung (a go-getting hustler - evidently representing the confused spirit of HK). Ludicrously contrived incidents are garnished with desultory dialogue; the underlying prostitution and slaughterhouse metaphors were wrung dry last time Wang tackled the city of his birth, in Life Is Cheap. Maybe Wang has lived too long in California; the average tourist with a camcorder would see the city more clearly than this.
Cast and crew
Jean-Claude Carrière, Larry Gross