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Gangster Payday Restaurant Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung

Gangster Payday (大茶飯): when he’s being muscled out of his karaoke bar by aggressive real estate developers, an ageing gangster invests in an honest business, but can’t seem to shake off his past. Despite the title and trailer hinting at an overly-familiar HK mob film; the gangster element plays second fiddle to an ‘emo triads angle where we find out that even the hardiest of HK gangbangers are just big teddybears with emotions, and gooey centres. Unfortunately, this is portrayed through a soap-operatic love triangle, which – when paired with the mid-budget televisual aesthetics and very melodic/dramatic vocal performances – means that the film lacks a ‘cinematic’ vibe. Tonally and thematically, it’s also one of those films that doesn’t export well, and westerners will probably fail to engage with (I particularly struggled with the hammy music and theatrical / play-like style). To make up for the pitfalls we’re treated to an ensemble cast featuring some of the biggest faces from the past 20 years of Hong Kong cinema, led by Anthony Wong, who puts in a great turn as a tired mob boss in his twilight. Gangster Payday isn’t for everyone: it’s a low-key, cutesy, and ultimately disappointing personal drama framed in a gangster movie; but the star power and talent of the cast (particularly Wong) prop up the film and keeping it watchable for the duration.

Score: 5/10

Gangster Payday Triad Gang Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung Gangster Payday Adidas Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung

Tree of life:  I’m never normally bothered by how arty or pretentious a film gets – if anything, it usually makes a film at least a little interesting… Despite this my cinema buddy and I endured around 30 minutes in to this before we realised that there was nothing on the screen that could hold down the film and tie together all of the random imagery that we were seeing. Entire segments featuring dinosaurs, stellar galaxies, wildlife, nature, scenery… for what purpose? Could someone please explain this to me? The Tree of Life takes the idea of a ‘narrative’ and clubs it in the face until all that’s left is a few recurring characters at 20 minute intervals. Non-linear storytelling can also be awesome, but if you could find the story in this, you’re a better man than I.

Despite being hooked in by Pitt and Penn, we realised there was around another 1 hour 50 minutes (total runtime of 140 minutes) – this was definitely a case of Tree of Life 1, Paragraph Film Reviews 0.

Alternative plans – 2 bonus hours of Call of Duty: Black ops.