Lan Kwai Fong (喜愛夜蒲)

lan kwai fong

For the uninitiated, Lan Kwai Fong is a small but pricey patch of real estate in Hong Kong’s financial district. During the day, it’s a lazy, barren grid of sloping streets, a stray pedestrian here and there. But by night, it’s a coed’s steamy playground and a tourist’s boozy retreat. Bass, bodies, and bad memories of college come tumbling out of the bars that line the streets. It’s an ideal setting for wet t-shirt and burger eating contests and, according to writers Mark Wu and Lam Fung, a racy movie about the local club scene.

An exciting night out doesn’t always make for an interesting film though, and sometimes it’s better to just go for the real thing, if you are into the hedonistic lifestyle that is so gleefully portrayed. The upscale revelers are there “to see and be seen,” not unlike the target audience for this movie. Lan Kwai Fong is sure to appeal to those who already wallpaper their social media with selfies and snaps of beautiful friends downing champagne and shots and wouldn’t mind seeing their lives mirrored on the big screen.

The film boasts an abundance of good-looking people, but none of these singers and models light up the screen on account of their acting abilities. The closest we get to an actor is Shiga Lin, who plays Jennifer and simply has the biggest part. She and her flight attendant colleagues (Stephanie Cheng and Jeana Ho) hit up the town and find themselves in a club run by guyliner-lover Jacky (Jason Chan). His friend Steven (Z.O.) immediately cozies up to her while another friend Sean (Gregory Wong) eyes Cat (Dada Chan), who is regularly on the prowl for sexual partners.

The filmmakers make some effort to give depth to these characters and their relationships. Jennifer and Steven hope that something more lasting than a one night stand is possible in this vacuous club culture. Jacky develops feelings for Jeana (Ho) but has to resolve some control issues with his ex (Bonnie Sin). Cat maybe wants more out of life while Sean, well, he still wants to get laid. There are numerous minor characters besides whose purpose is to insist that varied and complex people populate the scene.

It’s a lot for skilled writers and directors to manage, but in the hands of Lan Kwai Fong’s creative team, nothing trumps a blacklight glow and the heart-thumping pulsations. Rather than scraping away at the characters’ superficiality, they use their relationships to serve the scenery more than the plot, which is as meandering and purposeless as the people in it. The first 25 minutes are used merely to establish the ideal club atmosphere. Characters catwalk through crowds, awkward introductions are bolstered by alcohol, and a police raid interrupts bathroom sex, but nothing of consequence happens. Instead, the film minimizes narrative in order to flaunt its (perceived) best features. There’s a lot more skin and sex than your average Hong Kong picture, though nothing that will startle Western moviegoers, and that’s clearly enough to generate box office buzz and prompt two sequels.

“I’m Still Loving You” by Shiga Lin:

“Wonderland” by 24Herbs ft. Janice Vidal [Note: This might be the worst Cantonese/English song ever. At the very least, it is the most embarrassing. Actual line ‘Imma make you my lady, and maybe we can make some babies.’ You’ve been warned.]:

Released: 2011
Prod: Ng Kin-Hung 伍健雄
Dir: Wilson Chin 錢國偉
Writer: Mark Wu 胡耀輝; Lam Fung 林逢
Cast: Shiga Lin 連詩雅; Z.O. Shen Zhiming 沈志明; Jeana Ho 何佩瑜; Jason Chan 陳柏宇; Dada Chan 陳靜; Gregory Wong 王宗堯; Stephanie Cheng 鄭融; Jun Kung 恭碩良; Miki Yeung 楊愛瑾; Bonnie Sin 冼色麗; Cheng Ka-Wai 鄭家維; Emme Wong 黃伊汶; Tan Lap-Man 單立文; Chrissie Chau 周秀娜; Jacqueline Chong 莊思敏; Bob Lam 林盛斌
Time: 97 min
Lang: Cantonese, some Mandarin and English
Country: Hong Kong
Reviewed: 2014