With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THE MIDNIGHT AFTER reviewed; debuts today on DVD and Digital

Well Go USA
The Midnight After
Directed by Fruit Chan
Hong Kong/China. 2014, 124 minutes

The Midnight After, a genre-bending apocalyptic satire from director Fruit Chan, debuts today, Tuesday, June 21 on DVD and digital from Well Go USA Entertainment.

A Hong Kong bus with its driver (stalwart character actor Lam Suet) and fifteen passengers goes through a tunnel late one night. When it emerges, Hong Kong is a barren city -- there is no traffic and the rest of the entire population seems to have disappeared. Some of the passengers begin dying bizarre deaths, while others remain unaffected by whatever has happened. Then a strange man wearing a gas mask and protective clothing appears. The film, based on a cult internet novel by “Mr. Pizza,” follows the eclectic group of survivors as they attempt to understand just what's happened and what it all means.

Part mystery, part sci-fi, part thriller, and part comedy, The Midnight After is a strange film to say the least. One of the passengers tries to explain things by citing the words to David Bowie's song Space Oddity ("Ground control to Major Tom ..."). Another  finally reaches someone by telephone and is informed that six years have passed since the bus disappeared! There also seems to be some sort of signal that's emanated from Tai Mo Mountain, the significance of which -- if any -- is lost on anyone like myself who isn't all that familiar with Hong Kong's geography. The same goes for references to Hong Kong's Chief executive and to upcoming voting in 2017. And of course there's the internal inconsistency of some passengers dying various types of deaths while others remain healthy.

The Midnight After premiered at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. Subsequently it was nominated for eight Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Screenplay, winning for Original Film Score.It also  received Best Picture and Best Director nods at the 2015 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.

From these facts I get the feeling that the film makes more sense to natives of Hong Kong than it will to most Westerners. As for me, I was left rather unimpressed.

AsianCineFest Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars, somewhere between fair and poor; not recommended unless you're very knowledgeable about the current situation in Hong Kong.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1
  -- Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0
-- Subtitles
  -- English
  -- Chinese
  -- Off
-- Bonus Materials
  -- The Midnight After trailer
  -- Trailers for other Well Go USA offerings
    -- Phantom of the Theater
    -- Mojin: The Lost Legend
    -- The Great Hypnotist

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