Screened as part of NZIFF 2002
With the luxurious Hollywood towers above and a decrepit shanty town marked for demolition below, Fruit Chan’s succulent new black comedy views modern China’s chaotic influx into post-handover Hong Kong. Chan’s left-field plotting is as labyrinthine as the winding alleyways that house the Chu family’s barbecue pork stand. The enormous, blubbersome Papa Chu runs the stand with his two equally huge sons, teenage Ming and the younger Tiny. A motherly presence is supplied by a giant sow aptly named Mama. The opening credits draw us into the sweaty, fleshy world of the Chus’ barbecue pit as they are literally stamped onto bare flesh, both animal and human.
Their neighbour pimp-cum-webmaster Wong Chi-keung (a Cantonese John Smith) is spam-mailed by a hooker calling herself Shanghai Angel Hung-hung. He meets her for sex in a culvert under the Hollywood towers and soon falls head over heels for her. Later the same sweet and sour Mainland beauty, this time going by the name Tong-tong, begins to frequent the Chus’ barbecue stand. She initially befriends Tiny with childish games, enchants Papa with her sunny beauty and sets out to seduce the stolid impervious Ming. Before long the meat on the Chus’ barbecue isn’t the only thing sizzling up the screen as Chan throws into the hectic mix a cleaver-happy Shanghainese quack who wants to impregnate Mama with a human foetus, a ruthless triad gang bent on retribution and an incriminating semen stain. — Michael McDonnell
Instead of opting for my usual ultra-naturalist style, I have exploited the inherent drama of the subject matter to reflect Hong Kong’s new set of changes in the new millennium, especially where it concerns the futures and attitudes of our young people, personally and politically. The story is set in Hong Kong’s last shanty town which is facing imminent demolition... The first time I set foot in this shanty town, Hong Kong’s largest, I was shocked at its squalid condition. Most of the residents there are immigrants from Mainland China. They brave wind and rain, sun and heat in their tiny metal shacks. It is the polar opposite of the prosperous Hong Kong tourists are used to seeing. I wondered a great deal about this shanty town and the people in it and how a young prostitute can cause insanity in them and where else in Hong Kong is it more primitive and savage? — Fruit Chan