The Trough 低壓槽 (2018) - Hong Kong / China
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Nick Cheung transition to film director continues in his third neo-noir film “The Trough”. From those expecting the usual action thriller be warned as it is clearly an inspired experimental film capturing the dystopian island of Hong Kong in the bleakest possible form and almost dream-like. Don’t expect a coherent story as Cheung is aiming of style over substance, but filmed in an entirely original way. Compliments should be given for the level of details that Cheung shows of the dark and neo-noir city of crime and greed.
Nick Cheung does a great job in almost recreating the “Black Mask” style of character and action. Cheung have proven himself to be a capable action star and here carries the film in a film that crosses genres, Chinese western spaghetti with gunplay and brutal blood realism as Cheung roam from one gang after another to find the ultimate villain played in over the top fashion by Xu Jinglei. He Jiong is the cop in charge of Cheung’s undercover assignment and remains like a rock. Meanwhile, we get Maggie Cheung Ho Yee in a rare strong supporting turn as the crooked cop. Yu Nan appears as one of Cheung counterparts with a strong action feminine role.
All in all, “The Trough” is unlikely to reach the mass entertainment audience as it is far too diverting for the mainstream. Box office success is unlikely with a more fitting arthouse and film festival route that Cheung seems to be aiming for. Credit should be given for the fresh approach in story telling and dwelling into a deeper and darker subject matter about life and death. The city of Hong Kong and its future is certainly bleak and Cheung have no problems in displaying a totally dystopian society that is in dye need of a saviour and in this film, himself. Original yet diverting are the best words to describe this film.
I rated it 7/10