Lan Kwai Fong 2
Details: (MA15+), 100 mins, Hong Kong,
Synopsis: In the nightclub district of Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong, a photographer hits it off with a girl that just broke up with her rich boyfriend; an office boy mistakes his phone for a pretty married woman's; a broker gets to know a prostitute a lot more than he should; and a patrol officer comes across a female DJ working at a nightclub...
A regrettable nightclub romp.
The film offers only the most perfunctory intertwining of inconsequential, two-dimensional characters
The pulsating energy of Hong Kong’s famous nightlife barely registers in Wilson Chin’s banal ode to 20-something hedonism, Lan Kwai Fong 2. Reflecting the lead characters’ obsession with style over substance, and their general air of cluelessness about all things romantic, this slick soap opera offers grand histrionics and a pretty facade but not a single frame of real passion. If Chin’s film does capture anything remotely profound, it may be in its inadvertently symbolic portrayal of people more focussed on shallow, immediate gain than on their own (in)ability to deal with the sad realities of their lives.
The film is set in a section of Hong Kong’s Central district that was once on the cutting-edge of Asia’s nightclub culture. Lately, the after-hours precinct (known amongst locals as simply ‘LKF’) has become an over-commercialised tourist trap; the iconic D'Aguilar Street is witnessing a constant turnover of businesses as owners struggle to pay the exorbitant rents of the cramped city block.
Our protagonists are lovebirds played by real-life Canto-pop star Kelvin Kwan and actress Shiga Lin (the only returning star from the first instalment). After a lengthy session of boozing and flirting, they hook up and find themselves smitten (cue montage). Both performers play the subtleties of their deepening bond with the wide-eyed innocence of adolescents unaccustomed to any prior experience of attachment. Chin helps his untrained stars with slow-motion close ups and Vaseline tears at every opportunity.
The film offers only the most perfunctory intertwining of inconsequential, two-dimensional characters, so it’s damn near impossible to remain invested in their plight. The subplots are also peopled by the most rote caricatures of young lovers and serve no real purpose other than to bolster the running time. There’s the rigid young cop and the brash partygoer; the crass, old (i.e., 30-something) businessman’s offsider and the hooker with a heart of gold; the naive new boy who observes all the goings-on, hoping to get in on the action. The only strand given scant consideration is a sexual-obsession storyline following peroxided pants-man USB (Sammy Shum, mugging shamelessly) as he falls heavily for Liu Yuqi’s married seductress. But Chin’s decision to play the drama to grotesquely theatrical proportions undermines any serious consideration of thematic weight. The marketing for the film hints at “promiscuous things going on every night at LKF” but the goings on are coyly staged and entirely chaste; the squishing of Yuqi’s pantie-clad body against a large window for all the LKF pedestrians to see might provide some meagre thrills (or, as was my experience, a suppressed giggle).
The preposterous, entirely fanciful tone of Lan Kwai Fong 2 is capped with a flash mob finale, staggeringly stupid in its conception and execution. The implication of the scene is that if they could go back in time, they would not make the same mistakes. For me, it’s the moment in Lan Kwai Fong 2 that will resonate the most.
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