No.1 Chung Ying Street 中英街1號 (2018) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
After years of making movies for the Chinese audience, Hong Kong veteran director Derek Chiu goes political, social and even controversial about the 1967 Hong Kong riots against the British government and paralleling this with the more current Umbrella movement and Occupy Central in 2014. Stunned by the Hong Kong International Film Festival in flavour for Taiwanese and Japanese Films and rejected by the Hong Kong Film Development Council, Chiu manages to raise a limited budget of HK$3 million and thereby filming in black and white. It is this decision that made the film far most convincing, including some of the realistic battle scenes recreated of the 1960s riots that led to 51 deaths and countless injured (over 2000).
What I admire about this film is the fact that Chiu never really take sides, unlike “10 Years” which shows a single viewpoint of Hong Kong future. Chiu allows both sides of the argument to the presented and smartly interweaves how the 1960s riots started in the name and flags of the rising New China against the British government and police contrasts with the fight for political freedom in the modern day Umbrella movement. It shows that both superpowers in charge during different eras may not be acting in Hong Kong’s best interest and the welfare of its people. In some ways, the message seem to be that both riots and youth fought for the love of Hong Kong.
Talented young actors Neo Yau and Fish Liew plays the romantic couples in both modern day and 1960s, being caught in the middle of conflicting times. Lo Chun Yip, does well as the wealthy British associated family business’s son and later as an outsider who is willing to leave Hong Kong behind for greater pasture. Other veteran actors play their supporting parts extremely well and of note.
All in all, “No.1 Chung Ying Street” excels particularly in the detailed first segment about the 1960s riots, the characters are real and the story is coherent and even heart felt. The 2nd half suffers from inconsistent editing and the linkage to the Occupy Central seems rather forced. Still, there is a lot to like and admire in Derek Chiu’s through provoking film and with all that is happening right now, it’s probably a timely commentary as well.
I rated it 7.5/10