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Trivisa - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Shu Dai Jiu Fung

Hong Kong 2016

Genre:
Crime, Drama

Director:
Frank Hui
Jevons Au
Vicky Wong

Cast:
Gordon Lam Ka-Tung
Richie Ren
Jordan Chan Siu-Chun
Philip Keung Ho-Man
Lam Suet
Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung
Wan Yeung-Ming
Stephen Au Kam-Tong


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Trivisa

Trivisa - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Kwai Ching-hung (Lam Ka-tung) has to go into hiding since he shot a few police officers during a police control. However, he already has a new plan, how to get his hands on some new money by robbing a jewelry. For this he needs a few men, but he doesn't really trust those he gets for support. Back in the day, when he still was in a team with Yip Kwok-foon (Richie Ren) and Cheuk Tsz-keung (Jordan Chan), he was unbeatable. But now, on the verge of the Hong Kong handover to China, everyone has cut a different path in order to build up his own existence. Cheuk is still pressing money from family members of rich people he kidnapped. Eventually, he comes up with the idea that he could drum up his old group for their last big coup. This proves to be difficult since the police is observing him 24/7 and because Yip is now earning his money with the barely dangerous smuggling of products into Hong Kong. Yet, Cheuk is offering a reward for the person that can help him find his two friends. Since not everything is going according to plan in Kwai's and Yip's life a reunion could soon be possible.

Unforgettable - Film Screenshot 2 Unforgettable - Film Screenshot 3
Unforgettable - Film Screenshot 4

Review: It has been quite a while since we got a movie from Hong Kong that knows how to capture the spirit of Milkyway flicks as well as dish out some sociopolitical criticism. Furthermore, "Trivisa" has also been put together by three young directors of the Milkyway production company. To be fair, Johnnie To ("Three", "Life Without Principle") has also had a little bit of influence on the end product, being the producer and all. Yet, it's still surprising how good the directors manage to weave their three movies together into a seamless whole. The end product is captivating, tragical and also serves as brain food and link to the handover of Hong Kong to China. Apart from that, more than anyone else fans of good old nihilistic HK flicks will feel right at home.

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Of course, it's not easy to sympathize with the three protagonists. But that's not really what the film aims at. Instead, we get delicately nuanced villains, who all try in their own way to survive in a world that is undergoing a lot of change. That this is destined to lead to tragical sequences sooner or later is something no one questions. And to be honest, you are also yearning for finally getting a movie from Hong Kong again where you can watch karma and a sense of irony come to life and drag the gangsters of the story down a vortex of violence and despair. "Trivisa" is the best proof of this in no way needing a lot of blood and shootouts. We get a little bit of everything, but in no way it stands in the film's focus - it's actually utilized very sparcely.

Unforgettable - Film Screenshot 6

Every single one of the protagonists is dealing with his life crisis in another way. We have Kwai, played by Gordon Lam ("Firestorm", "Z Storm"), who ruthlessly tries to scratch a living through robberies. Contrary to Yip, portrayed by Richie Ren ("Accident", "Breaking News"), who most of the time successfully suppresses his violent nature and almost twists himself into someone else in order to gain ground in a new Hong Kong. As sort of a comedic counterweight we get Cheuk, embodied by Jordan Chan ("Colour of the Truth"). Thankfully, he isn't portrayed that much over-the-top and wacky, meaning that the film's tone isn't cut in half. Generally, it's really astonishing how well the atmospheres of the different stories are brought together.

Unforgettable - Film Screenshot 7

The three stories are told in a well balanced repeated rotation. The editing is outstanding and helps a lot finding our way in the stories at all times. The focal points are clearly made and deliver strong variation. Jevons Au is responsible for the most profound character elaboration with his story around Yip, detailing the inner struggle of an individual who needs to adapt to a new political and economical environment the best. Frank Hui creates the darkest and concerning its atmosphere densest part, whereas it is never completely clear how mad Kwai actually is. Moreover, his scenes with a friend and that man's daughter are the most thrilling ones. Vickie Wong with his more lighthearted part, whose "hero" is constantly on the verge of overflowing madness, is going overboard only rarely.

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Still, it would be wrong to consider the three stories being individual interpretations of the same problem. Not only are they interwoven in a way that all of them benefit from each other, towards the end they are also brought together in a pretty neat way. However, viewers should be informed right away that there is in fact no real collaboration between the three protagonists. The more the movie advances the more obvious this gets. This anticlimax suits the movie very well, though. Furthermore, the 90s feeling of Hong Kong cinema is brought to life again in a fantastic way, without setting aside the achievements of modern cinema. "Trivisa" is a nice, gritty Milkyway flick which deals with the Hong Kong handover in a smart way and yet remains a dark crime thriller with mostly fantastically drawn characters.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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