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Hong Kong, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Regional Features)

Director: Fruit Chan

Fruit Chan is back! The young HK Chinese director who captivated MIFF audiences last year with his dazzling Made in Hong Kong returns with an epic crime thriller set during the lead up to the hand-over. A band of disaffected soldiers, dumped by the British army stationed in Hong Kong once they outlived their usefulness, struggle for existence. When they see that 'Chopsticks' (Made in Hong Kong lead Sam Lee), the young street-punk brother of one of the soldiers, is doing well as a gofer for gangsters, the men forget being solid citizens and plan a bank job.

In a scene that pays homage to Tarantino paying homage to his Hong Kong heroes, the hold-up ends in a massive fireflght, lucky escapes and enough loot to make life a whole lot easier... for now. Chan was intrigued by the idea of soldiers—men with a very specific set of plan­ning, command aid fighting skills—finding their way into the underworld. Most countries in the world have a group of disenfranchised veterans who have limited career opportunities once they have left the armed forces.

In addition to presenting the unpleasant realities of life for hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents after the hand-over, Chan paints a bleak portrait of youth. In his world school boys wage pitched battles with butcher's knives.

Visually The Longest Summer is a knockout. Frenetic handheld interludes collide with sweeping, lan­guid pans of expansive waterways. Chan's camera moves with grace from a spectacular riverside fireworks display io a gangland beating in a bar toilet. An exciting, fresh and intelligent voice in Asian cinema, Fruit Chan's The Longest Summer is a landmark film and certain Fest hit.

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