Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EXODUS: An Unmitigated Bore

EXODUS (HK drama in Cantonese)

Cast: Simon Yam (pic), Nick Cheung, Maggie Siu and Irene Wan
Director: Pang Ho-Cheung
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Hong Kong writer-director Pang Ho Cheung is known for black comedies and satirical thrillers, especially last year's "Isabella" that won him the Best Director awards from the Portugal Film Festival and the Hong Kong Film Critics Association. The movie also propelled HK singer Isabella Leong to critical fame as its lead. "Exodus", Pang's sixth movie, however, is a huge mistake and an unmitigated bore. The movie smacks of self-indulgence with little consideration for its audience. It may please some of the art-house crowd but commercial appeal looks dismal.

THE PLOT: Sergeant Tsim Kin Yip (Simon Yam) is a 20-year veteran of the HK police who finds his career stalled after a failed attempt to uncover a case of police brutality in his department. Transferred to a desk job, Tsim's mundane life is dedicated to taking care of his young wife, Ann (Annie Liu).One night, Tsim gets a call from a colleague, requesting him to take down a report from a guy (Nick Cheung as Kwan Ping Man) caught peeping and recording a video in a women's toilet. Kwan, however, claims that he has inadvertently uncovered a conspiracy by a group of women to eliminate all the men on Earth! Tsim thinks little of it - until the report disappears from the evidence room and the suspect changes his story after a visit from a senior woman officer (Maggie Siu). Then, when Kwan's body is found floating in a pond, Tsim starts to realise that there may be some truth to his claims...

THE REVIEW: This set-up sounds a lot like a spy fantasy-comedy but Pang plays it straight throughout the movie. Worse, instead of having Tsim actively investigating the claim, we see him brooding at home, eating his meals and having an affair with Kwan's beautiful widow Pun (Irene Wan). If the conspiracy is meant to be a joke, no one is laughing as Pang provides little humour in his scenes of boring everyday life. Veteran actor Simon Yam is largely wasted in an undemanding script that has him contemplating and slouching with the female stars. What's worse, we feel nothing at all for his protagonist.Camerawork (by Lam Chi Kin) is static and lazy. The few distractions come with lingering eye-candy shots of Irene Wan and Annie Liu in intimate positions with Yam. Then, when we get the feeling that plot is about to be developed at last, the movie ends abruptly.

THE LOWDOWN: There were rumours of troubles during the production of "Exodus" but these were summarily dismissed by Pang. One thing we can be sure is that this movie, with such a misnomer of a title, is heading for trouble at the box-office.


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