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[??]Enthralled / ?.?.? (2014)
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10 from votes
Release: 10 April 2014 (Hong Kong) /

[??]Enthralled / ?.?.? (2014)

Genre: Drama
Director: Chip Tsao,
Stars: , , , , , ,
Synopsis: The stories revolve around the lives of three childhood friends: An overseas returnee who falls in love with the young wife of an ambitious politician, a university lecturer who's searching for the truth about his late father and a handsome hair stylist whose latest conquest is a rich, middle-aged divorcee. Written by Jiilo_Kim

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Critic Reviews


As a big fan of Chip Tsao's column and radio program, I rushed to see his director debut Enthralled which he also wrote the script. While I am impressed with his squeezing in so much Hong Kong politics, history and social issues packaged in sex and lust scenes, I feel kind of overwhelmed and disappointed because of his over-ambition.

The movie centers around three elementary school friends who split after 1989 and reunite after 20 years, only to find each other has developed very different lives. They make an appointment to meet again in a year and more things happen within that year, making the appointment uncertain to take place. One of the protagonists is a returned emigrant who is now an investment bank executive madly in love with the beautiful wife of an ambitious politician. The second one is a university lecturer who is obsessed in searching for his father who abandoned the family. The last one is a handsome hair stylist who is willing to do anything to hang around with any rich and lonely wife, or her family. All three men have their obsession in sex and/or love and maybe further goals. As the story develops, the three men encounter betrayal, deceit besides honesty.

The only point these three men have in common is their primary school experience. I wish their stories had more overlapping elements which could certainly enhance the dramatic value. As it stands now though, there are so many details in each sub-story that it is quite tedious to let the emotions sink in. Perhaps the whole story can be expressed better in a novel and thus putting it on the big screen requires another set of skills. Written by a prolific columnist, the witty dialogues literally flood the sound tracks and keep pounding without leaving room for the audience to digest. If you read Tsao's column or listen to his radio program regularly you can find his shadow everywhere. But on the screen, they are still delivered in the form of lengthy and/or punchy lines, unfortunately and worse yet, by actors who could have better acting skills. So the result is a little too pretentious and does not feel natural.

If you are looking at the elements the film covers, it can be good value for the money since the movie touch on a lot of social and political issues. It is almost like a buffet packed into a crowded hall: you are just too busy scanning and picking the food, let alone sitting down and appreciating it.

It is exactly what ruins the movie – too ambitious to include too many issues brought out by too many characters so each story line is weakly developed. In fact, each story can be developed into an entire movie where more character development can be explored. The political connotations (China and Xinjiang, returning Hong Kong to China etc) are too obvious and kind of ruin the fun.

I appreciate Tsao's intention in showing Hong Kong through three men representing three social classes. Only in reality, these people probably cannot be friends, at least not in Hong Kong. However, I really appreciate the good intention and sincerity in portraying post-1997 Hong Kong in relating to an earlier British colony. Overall, it is a much stronger script and plot than many local authors who attempt similar subjects. I hope more films will be made on similar issues.

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