Lan Kwai Fong (2011) Movie Review

Lan Kwai Fong (2011) Movie Image

For the uninitiated, “Lan Kwai Fong” is one of Hong Kong’s most popular drinking areas, a nightlife beacon packed with bars and clubs and populated by young people looking for a good time. Director Wilson Chin (former TVB producer and helmer of “Summer Love”) tries to do justice to the famous district by bringing together a top eye candy cast of attractive up and coming actors, models and pop stars, including Z.O., Shiga Lin, Jason Chan, Miki Yeung, Stephanie Cheng, DaDa Chan, Jeana Ho, Bonnie Xian, Emme Wong, Gregory Wong, Jun Kung, and Pal Sinn, with plenty of cameo appearances from a long line of famous faces. A contemporary youth drama dealing with life, love, and especially sex, the film proved very popular with its target audience, scoring big at the domestic box office.

The plot revolves around a group of well-dressed youngsters who frequent the area and its clubs, in particular playboy bachelor Steven (Z.O.), who has a one night stand with gorgeous air stewardess Jennifer (Shiga Lin). The film skips forward to follow the ups and downs of their relationship over the coming months, as he struggles with notions of commitment and various misunderstandings get in their way. Although things don’t work out between the two of them, as soon as Jennifer gets engaged to his boss (Jun Kung), Steven finds that he still has feelings for her. At the same time, his best friend, bar manager Jacky (Jason Chan) gets involved with Jennifer’s friend Jeana (Jeana Ho) while trying to juggle his pregnant and emotionally disturbed ex (Bonnie Xian), and another of their gang, nice guy lawyer Sean (Gregory Wong) spends his time chasing after flirtatious party girl Cat (DaDa Chan), despite her sleeping with pretty much every guy she comes across.

Lan Kwai Fong (2011) Movie Image

It’s really quite easy to see why “Lan Kwai Fong” has gone down so well with audiences, as it delivers exactly as promised, being a non-stop, over the top, at times hysterical parade of good looking people and couples having sex and going through problems and issues that are nowhere near life threatening. The film certainly does pack in a great deal of sex, in an impressive array of locations (though primarily nightclub toilets and alleyways) and although it doesn’t feature any actual nudity, director Wilson Chin makes the very most of the casts’ heaving cleavages and other parts of their anatomies, with eye catching and absurdly tight costumes that leave very little to the imagination. Whilst this might be a bit of a tease, and a category III rating might have helped, the film actually benefits from an odd air of innocence, especially since Chin never lays on any heavy handed moralising or the kind of harsh life lessons which might have been expected.

As a result, the film makes for a great deal of guilt-free fun, and though it does deal with some half relevant issues such as promiscuity, one night stands and pregnancy, it’s clearly far more concerned with making its cast look good, delivering flashy visuals and a pounding dance soundtrack. Chin’s direction is breezy and fast paced, switching smoothly between the various subplots, and although it’s unlikely that viewers will really care about the characters, their various situations do at times ring true.

Lan Kwai Fong (2011) Movie Image

It also helps that the film clearly isn’t taking itself too seriously and is very funny in places, in part due to the fact when not bumping and grinding the cast spend most of the running time engaging in amusingly heavy drinking. With this and the overall glossiness of the backdrop bars and clubs, the film paints a pretty appealing picture of the area’s hedonistic lifestyle, and while not being about much more than characters getting worked up about who is sleeping with who, it has a semi-authentic feel and definitely wins points for being a proudly local Hong Kong production instead of aiming for Mainland market.

In this respect, though it certainly has its flaws and is about as shallow and inconsequential as its characters, “Lan Kwai Fong” is a very enjoyable film indeed, and the kind of unpretentious entertainment which the Hong Kong industry definitely needs to be producing more of.

Wilson Chin (director) / Mark Wu (screenplay)
CAST: Pak-yu Chan
Yung Cheng
Steven Dasz
Jun Kung
Seth Leslie
Shiga Lin … Jennifer
Emme Wong
Seli Xian
Miki Yeung


Buy Lan Kwai Fong on DVD



About James Mudge

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James is a Scottish writer based in London. He is one of BeyondHollywood.com’s oldest tenured movie reviewer, specializing in all forms of cinema from the Asian continent, as well as the angst-strewn world of independent cinema and the plasma-filled caverns of the horror genre. James can be reached at jamesmudge (at) btinternet.com, preferably with offers of free drinks.

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