Reviewed by: danton
What starts out as a somewhat dreary female bonding flick with lots of nurturing support talk that had me fear the worst, catches itself just in time to turn into a well-scripted drama which then morphs into a gripping suspense thriller. This is quite a surprising, and overall pretty satisfying effort starring Mui Yim Fong in a very welcome return to HK movies.
Anita plays Michele, a middle-aged HK woman who takes a trip to Southern France in order to find some inner resolution about her unhappy marriage. While touring a depressing-looking rainy country with one of those depressing tour groups, she starts to befriend Miki, a quirky young Japanese woman who seems to have some problems of her own. Nothing much happens, and the movie doesn't seem to be going anywhere. However, after the end of the tour, the two women decide to extend their vacation and they travel to Marocco. This change in locale lifts the movie in more ways than one. The rainy shots from the Provence region (reflecting the initial depression of the two lead characters) make room for the vibrant colours and exotic locales of Northern Africa, just as in turn Miki's and Michele's spirits begin to lift through their growing friendship. However, there is trouble afoot: Michele inadvertently learns a few disturbing things about Miki that make her question their friendship. And then things get even worse, when Miki gets abducted by some evil white slavers half way into the movie.
Michele alerts the police and initiates frantic search efforts for her vanished friend, and her husband, played by Simon Yam, flies in from HK to help. Miki, meanwhile, is treated very badly by her kidnappers (nothing graphic, but still distressing to watch) who plan on selling her into prostitution.
All search efforts are in vain, and everyone gives up hope, except for Michele, who vows to stay and search for her missing friend as long as it takes. I'll not go any further, to not spoil the movie, although I would mention that I had hoped for a slightly different resolution...
Surprisingly, the filmmakers made the decision to pair Anita's character with a Japanese girl, hence requiring the two actors to speak English with each other. Therefore, most of the movie (with the exception of the scenes between Anita and her husband) is in English. Both actresses handle the challenge of acting in a foreign tongue well for the most part (definitely way better than Andy Lau Tak Wah and Simon Yam in FTK), but I'm not quite sure why this was done in the first place, as there was no real need to make Miki's character Japanese (and there's no nudity in the film, voiding the usual explanation for why a Japanese actress was cast).
The movie gets off the ground slowly, but once the story moves to Marocco, things pick up considerably. Cinematography and editing are well done (even though this was not a big budget movie), Anita is convincing as always, and the musical score goes extremely well with the story told without ever being intrusive or sappy. I was well entertained, and would not hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a well-written intelligent drama. It's certainly one of the better productions to come out of HK this year.