籠民
Cageman (1992)


Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 03/31/2008
Summary: Virtuoso filmmaking

Perceptive and intelligent script. Witty dialogue. First rate direction. Thoroughly believeable characters. Heartfelt and fiery performances from Hong Kong’s best actors. It is easy to see why this film won so many awards.

And the subject could hardly be less glamorous. The scenario seems to have been drawn from Kurosawa’s version of The Lower Depths. Accepting ElectraWoman’s observation that the situation is portrayed with at least a thin coating of sugar, Cageman remains a bittersweet pill with perhaps equal parts of outrage, humour and resignation to the inevitable.

The camaraderie among the Cagemen is warm and palpable. The way they look out for each other, inevitably and hilariously bicker, and then close ranks when trouble threatens, one almost wishes to hang out with them for awhile. This feeling passes quickly, as the realities and discomforts are frequently highlighted.

This is an ensemble cast, and it is difficult to pick a stand out actor. I’d happily adopt Ku Feng’s character as a grandfather. Roy Chiao delivers a performance both tough and sensitive as a man struggling to keep his naughty retarded son in line. (The wine-scaring motif is just magic). Teddy Robin Kwan plays his ‘againster’ character to the hilt. Michael Lee is the essence of defiant dignity. The great Victor Wong puts in a rare appearance in a HK film (he’s based in the US). Even Wong Ka Kui does a creditable job as a dissolute punk. Woo Fung hits all the right notes as a local copper just doing his job who genuinely likes the Cagemen.

Although we all love the silliness and manic energy of HK cinema, it is refreshing to watch a movie that treats its audience as mature adults. The script goes far beyond simple good versus bad, worthy versus greedy. My one gripe is that, in covering the views and actions of all the ‘stakeholders’ (sorry – my public service background coming through), the film runs too long. At just under two and a half hours, Cageman is one of the longest HK commercial films. That said, I am hard-pressed to think what could be edited out as, despite the sometimes leisurely pace, there is barely a frame wasted.

Essential viewing for any fan of mature drama, in or outside of HK cinema.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ElectraWoman
Date: 10/12/2000
Summary: 8/10-Quite good

The film is centred around a young, unemployed man, who, after being kicked out is desperate enough to live anywhere. He is directed to Roy Chiao, who owns the caged establishment, and is given a living space. Through him we get to learn about the other members living there, including a near-centurian whose living space doubles as a store of sorts. When developers want to tear down the building they vow to fight.

I would disagree that this film is realistic-in reality, caged apartments are definitely NOT as nice as portrayed here-but regardless of that, this film is very well written, with great performances all around. While I daresay it glorifies the lives of the poor, I agree it's more of a celebration of the human spirit than anything else. Simply ignore the huge loads of sugar this film places on situations, sit back, and enjoy :)



Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

Although the plot description makes it sound like this movie will be some depressing expose on the abhorrent living conditions in Hong Kong, writer/director/producer Jacob Cheung never lets you feel sorry for the tenants. In fact, this movie is as much a celebration of human spirit as it is a presentation of the life of the extremely poor. If anything, life in the cages may be portrayed a little too optimistically. This film deservedly won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor at the 12th Hong Kong Film Awards. The incredibly talented ensemble cast all do an amazing job in making the audience care more about them than the fact they sleep in cages. As always, Roy Chiao is superb, as is Lee Ming-Yeung and Liu Kai-Chi. Tragically, one of the most impressive and surprising performances is turned in by Wong Ka-Kui (from the rock group BEYOND) who was killed in a freak accident the year after this film was made.


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Dramedy (comedy and drama) of a building of residents livingin rented beds surrounded by wire nets, thus the image of caged men, struggle to keep the building from being torn down by big time developers who want the land. One of the few movies made in Hong Kong with plots involving politicians. Ensemble cast portrays a large variety of everyday poor people in Hong Kong. This one hits the nail on the head in depicting the rich against the poor in Hong Kong society.

[Reviewed by Edith Fung]


Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Jacob Cheung did an astonishing job directing this low-key, hyper-realistic drama of tenants who refuse to leave a tenement so wretched that each live in wire cages like mice -- as the authorities want to level it for development.

(3.5/4)



[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 8