4 out of 5 stars
This politically charged and very independently made film from Hong Kong is a collection of 5 short films (4 cautionary tales and 1 head-scratcher that could cure insomnia) made by different director-writers under the same umbrella of what could happen to the ex-colony in 10 years’ time. Using different styles to distinguish and retain each segment’s identity: a B&W assassination thriller, a more light-hearted vignette on a taxi-driver who doesn’t speak Mandarin and even a fake documentary about an imaginary hunger striker who died protesting, these prophetic stories feel bleak and uncompromising, but end on a hopeful note with the last story about an local egg-seller and his son who’s recruited into the Young Guards. Explicitly accusing the mainland Chinese government of nefarious wrongdoings and repudiation of previous promises and agreements, the film has since been banned, or more accurately ignored and disregarded, in the rest of China outside of HK. As a native Hongkonger, the film no doubt resonates on a personal level. For a foreign audience, it is an indictment against totalitarianism as well as a satirical look at state control and censorship. This is a courageous film that educates as well as entertains (with a great line delivered nonchalantly by a child that ends the film with a smile) proving the old saying that the word is definitely mightier than the sword.