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生命祇剩1小時 (1999)
Life in Last Hour

Reviewed by: morgold
Date: 11/24/1999

In the past few years, HK movies have become divided against themselves. Now, there are the A-list movies, and then there is everything else. "Life in Last Hour" would be part of the 'everything else.'

I doubt my enjoyment of this film would have been greater had I already been familiar with the autobiography of its disc-jockey lead, who more or less plays himself in the film, trying to work his way through a broken marriage while counseling two suicidal callers on his radio show who are also suffering from loves lost. This 'call-in' plot creates an episodic structure, as the film relates in flashback the tribulations of 1) a loser who steals from his boss to both impress and then torture his unfaithful girlfriend; and 2) a teenage girl planning on committing love-suicide to spite her callous boyfriend. The second sequence at least has a little humor, as the teenager's platonic boyfriend nonchalantly grills hot-dogs over the fire whose smoke will presumably cause their immanent suffocation. Up until this point, I was willing to spot the film some points for being sweet, if utterly boring, and really better suited to being a television show.

In the last segment, however, we get back to the DJ's own maudlin story, which features car crashes that pretend to be far more exciting than they actually are, parents in operating theaters, doctor's bills, little children running to the rescue in taxicabs, and a pathetic last-ditch effort to offer some voice-over pseudophilosophy to tie up everything together. It is impossible to hate a film as good-natured and inconsequential as this is, so it almost makes me feel guilty to remind this sweet film how utterly horrible it really is. Almost.

I understand this is a "little film", but that doesn't mean it has to be this bad. You don't need a lot of money to make a good film--all you need is a good script, a commodity in increasingly short supply in HK.

However, the filmmakers may be encouraged to know that, failing a successful DVD release, they can always market their product as a sleeping aid: when the lights in the theater came on after the final credit-roll, the theater manager had to physically rouse the few remaining patrons from the peaceful slumber the film had induced.

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Life in Last Hour (1999)

One of the hot topics these days is the break-up of the bizarre affair between HUNG Chiu-fung and BO Wing-kam and how mad HUNG became after the break-up. People have wondered if HUNG is putting on his own 'Truman Show.' Ironically, two days after the break-up, HUNG's latest movie, 'Life in Last Hour,' was released in theatres. Although we do not know if this is related to these real-life events, this has definitely given the movie some free publicity.

The movie's title, 'Life in Last Hour,' is taken from the name of the radio show in the movie hosted by Yat-fung (HUNG Chiu-fung) and Mary (LAN Sai). It is a phone-in program that allows its audience to talk about their feelings and problems. This results in two stories: The first story begins with Sam (CHEUNG Tat-ming), a man on the edge of bankruptcy who fails to pay the interest on a debt to a loan shark (PAT Leung-kam). Subsequently, he kills the loan shark and acquires a suitcase filled with money. He spends the money with his girlfriend, Suki (TONG Ying-ying), and then tries to end their lives. The second story starts with May, a victim of a love triangle between herself, Fai (Gabriel Harrison), and another woman. She tries to commit suicide by burning carbon in a closed apartment, but she calls Yat-fung's program, hoping her boyfriend will come and save her. After this segment, the movie returns to Yat-fung. He has just gotten divorced from his wife, June (LUI Yau-wai), and has failed to get custody of his son. At the same time, he has the heavy burden of school fees for his two daughters and the medical costs for his father who is about to have an operation.

The first and third stories are much better than the second. The problem with the second is that it is too typical and lacks any variety or unique twist that might have given it more value.

Having three stories to fill its running time, the movie is develops easily. In terms of concept and structure 'Life in Last Hour' is able to give the audience a general sense of its theme -- taking care of one's own life. Perhaps this is due to the audience's perception of HUNG and his reputation. Before HUNG became mad, he was the disc jockey of a phone-in radio show which is more or less the same role he has in the film.

However, this does not mean the overall quality of 'Life in Last Hour' is above average. The stories are not linked well together, and the flow and the direction of the movie have many problems. For example, there are too many unnecessary love scenes. Perhaps these scenes exist to satisfy an overseas market, but it does not help the film's quality. In addition, the movie seems incomplete. In the movie, Yat-fung and Mary are good partners, and they are even at the stage of talking about getting married. Unfortunately, the movie fails to carry out on this development making the ending of the movie less impressive.

In fact, the conclusion is the movie's weakest point, consisting of several minutes of narration that summarizes the prior 80 minutes. This technique might be useful to recap an academic seminar or sum up a movie with a more complex nature, but here it is a pointless device.

In short, 'Life in Last Hour' is a movie that discusses the meaning of love while HUNG has created a setting similar to his previous real-life experience with a radio show. Unfortunately, less-than-average direction and the film's poor structure ruin a good concept.