Five thought-provoking shorts imagine what Hong Kong will be like ten years from now. In Extras, two genial low-level gangsters are hired to stage an attack, but they're mere sacrificial lambs in a political conspiracy. Rebels strive to preserve destroyed homes and objects as specimens in the mesmerizing Season of the End. In Dialect, a taxi driver struggles to adjust after Putonghua displaces Cantonese as Hong Kong's only official language. Following the death of a leading independence activist, an act of self-immolation outside the British consulate triggers questions and protests in the searing yet moving Self-Immolator. In Local Egg, a grocery shop owner worries about his son's youth guard activities and where to buy eggs after Hong Kong's last chicken farm closes down.
Directed by: Jevons Au
, Chow Kwun-Wai
, Fei-Pang Wong
, Kwok Zune
. Starring: Peter Chan
, Lau Ho-Chi
, Kin-Ping Leung
, Kai Chi Liu
, Siu Hin Ng
, Tanzela Qoser
, Ching Wong
, Courtney Wu
'Happy Together' by Wong Kar-wai is one of my favourite films, an allegory of two gay men from Hong Kong travelling across Argentina, seemingly exiled from home. A film made just before the UK's hand- over of Hong Kong in 1997, the anxieties of what will become of Hong Kong over the next fifty years have been something looked at in the arts, as well as played out in the real-life streets of the SAR. 'Ten Years' is five shorts set in and around the year 2025, ten years after the film was made: in 2015, Maths fans. Each take a more-than-slightly controversial look at various aspects of life and how they could be changed in the future, as China's influence grows. I'm sure China took kindly to it.
'Extras', the opening tale, is regarding two Triads, chosen to be pawns in a political chess game with public opinion. The National Security chiefs feel that their role will be undermined, with little fear among the populace. Therefore, the two hapless Triads are offered big money to shoot at two politicians, creating public fear, highlighting the need for Security Forces. An inside act of terror, this is one for conspiracy theorists all over. The short itself, however, is fairly simplistic and feels a little amateurish in execution. It's probably best that this one flies by at the start.
The second is by far the strangest of the quintet, and left me feeling even the actors don't really know what is going on. A couple of 'specimen collectors' go about their 'research' in an abandoned building, but little is really clear as to what exactly they are doing, or why. With parts that remind of György Pálfi's 'Taxidermia' and others 'The Shining', this is a random collection of 'specimens' of scenes, thrown together with little coherent story to speak of.
The first two a bit weak, thankfully the third picks up the pace greatly. A taxi driver struggles with the new policy that all drivers must speak Putonghua instead of Cantonese to be able to pick up certain fares. This leads to comedy moments as he tries to learn pronunciations of words, such as 'David Beckham.' But for the driver that previously had to learn English to get work now struggles with another language being forced upon him, potentially taking his livelihood as a result.
The fourth is probably the most controversial, a mockumentary about someone self-immolating themselves outside the British Consulate. Speaking with various academics and writers on the subject of protest movements, it tells the story of a young student whose imprisonment inspired others, as they try to identify the silent protester. It speaks of many subjects, relevant in light of recent movements in Hong Kong, and how these could tragically develop as the years pass.
The fifth and final story is of a vendor whose son, along with all other children, has to take part in activities on behalf of the government, keeping surveillance on all shops and points of sale. The smallest of things will be noted, with common sense forgotten as the young children blindly follow orders. Picked up for advertising 'local eggs', when the approved 'Hong Kong eggs' should be used, he questions his son as to what it is he is doing in his role, concerned that his son is becoming a brainwashed trooper for the secret police. But soon he learns that his son has been assisting some of the shops he is sent to keep an eye on, showing that independent thought and protest are still alive and well in the future's youth. These five Orwellian visions of what may become of Hong Kong are varied in quality, but all raise interesting anxieties present among a people as to what the future may hold. Well, maybe not 'Season of the End'. As a UK resident, while different in their circumstances, the situation in Hong Kong reflects the uncertainty that surrounds the UK's political future and what impacts, with various doomsday scenarios playing out in the minds of all concerned, if you're bothered, that is.
It could prove that there is little change afoot, but the human mind cannot cope with uncertainty, and Hong Kong has another thirty years of anxiety ahead of it before anyone's ideas can be founded.
Review by politic1983 from the Internet Movie Database.