With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, June 25, 2015

PORT OF CALL will be Opening Night Film at NYAFF on Friday; second screening Saturday afternoon

Aaron Kwok, center with glasses, stars in Port of Call
 Port of Call
Director: Philip Yung
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Michael Ning, Jessie Li
Hong Kong, 2015, 121 minutes
Language: Cantonese with English Subtitles
North American Premiere

When: Friday, June 26 at 8:30pm & Saturday, June 27 at 3:00pm

Port of Call will be the Opening Night Film at the 14th New York Asian Film Festival on Friday, June 26th. This screening will be preceded by the presentation of the Star Asia Award to actor Aaron Kwok. (This screening has -- not surprisingly -- sold out. However, there will be a standby line should any tickets go unclaimed.) The film will also be shown on Saturday, June 27th when Kwok will participate in an Intro and Q&A.

Jiamei (Jessie Li, in her film debut) is a sixteen year old girl who has moved to Hong Kong with her mother and sister, while her father stayed in Hunan. She dreams of becoming a model, but ends up as a teen-age prostitue who is brutally murdered. Hong Kong Police Officer Chong (Aaron Kwok, whose 53 credits include The Storm Riders and Cold War) is the detective who heads up the investigation into the crime. With glasses and grey hair, Chong is a grizzled veteran who is all but done in by all the violence he has seen. A loving father to his preteen daughter, one senses that what his job has done to him over the years probably has much to do with why he is separated or divorced.

The film is divided into four sections, and although the identity of the murderer is revealed fairly early on, much mystery remains. There are several jumps back and forth in time, but each shift is identified by year. Director Philip Yung has done a deft job of keeping the narrative clear and moving along. The cinematography is fabulous, which is what one would expect from veteran Christopher Doyle, who is probably best known for his work on several films by Wong Kar Wei.

A gripping crime mystery, Port of Call is a perfect film for opening night at this year's NYAFF. There's teen-age sex and prostitution and some harrowing violence, both described and depicted. There's also some explicit nudity. The film must carry a Category III (adults only) rating in Hong Kong. Given it's subject matter and nude scenes, I can't imagine it being released in any form -- even severely edited -- in Mainland China, except, of course, as an illegal bootleg.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very good indeed.

The two screenings of Port of Call are part of HONG KONG PANORAMA, one of the Special Focus sections of NYAFF, and are presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

The full schedule for NYAFF 2015 can be found here.

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