Filmmaker Yim Ho was one of filmmakers to inspire what we now refer to as the Hong Kong New Wave in the 1980s, with his film Red Dust honored with a record twelve nominations at the Taiwan Golden Horse Festival. With such acclaim from his earlier work, I couldn’t understand the less than enthusiastic reception for Ho’s thirteenth film, Floating City. Although this film is not likely to inspire any new movements in Chinese cinema, it is a solid drama and personal filmmaking done without unnecessary melodrama.
The film tells the story of a poor peasant boy in 1940s
who is raised aboard a fishing boat until sent to work as a laborer. With
blue-eyes and slightly reddish hair, Bo Wah Chuen (Aaron Kwok) has many
questions about his origins, which his peasant parents refuse to answer. Though
his past is uncertain, the mixed race look allows for few advantages in Chuen’s
future. Ridiculed constantly for being a “half-breed,” Chuen works his way up
by learning English and becoming an engineer for the British colonies.
The success also comes with a devoted wife and a passionate lover on the side, but somehow this is still not enough to keep Chuen satisfied. Forever tormented about his past and future, nothing seems enough for the man who is able to achieve what nobody though possible from someone of his status. In some ways, we are never properly allowed to penetrate Chuen’s exterior. There is much he leaves unsaid and bottled in, leaving the audience on the outside as much as the women in his life are.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Disc Features: 1/10
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