44 Seven 2 One

A really clever party piece by Danny Pang.  I am surprised by the lukewarm reviews I have seem around, and thought I should attempt to boost its reputation a little.

Seven 2 One tells a very small story about a convenience storeSeven_2_One_poster robbery that goes rather wrong.  However, it does this in an interesting way.  It adopts the Rashômon approach of telling the story multiple times of various young Hong Kong residents who are connected both directly and peripherally with the central incident.  We hop back and forth in time and space to find out what events led up to the robbery, and the delicate interaction of some quite disparate characters.

What I find interesting is how absolutely loathsome pretty much all the characters are.  And this comes at all levels, whether it is Chrissie Chau’s rather vapid convenience store clerk, to William Chan’s underworld gambling supremo, to Leo Chim’s quite repulsive convenience store owner.

We spend no longer than 10 minutes with each character, finding out about their lives and motivations, before hooking onto the next character to bisect their life.  We see relationships developing, scenes from slightly different perspectives.  Now you might say “Hey I have seen all this before”.  And you would be right.  But this is done in a very nice way.

It is a dark film.  There are not a lot of happy endings here.  The one truly good person (Elanne Kong’s character) gets hurt the most (which is fine as it is often the innocents who are affected most), but the truly loathsome characters are little more than inconvenienced by the nights events.

It has a pretty (in both senses of the word) young cast, full of new faces and pop stars – to be honest, I did not recognise anyone (other than those who are in the next movie that I will talk about), but I don’t think any of them really put a foot wrong.  It may of course help that the camerawork and cinematography are exactly what you would expect from the family Pang, and that no one character has to hold the movie together.

A big bonus is the films running time – at just over 80 minutes this film has very little fat on its bones – I cannot think of a scene that is wholly unnecessary.  However, maybe the “hawt lesbian” subplot than involves a rather complex way of splitting up with a rather insane lover (by pretending to have fallen in love with a guy) goes possibly a little too far in the believability stakes, but it never outstays its welcome.

I think what I love about the movie is that I could happily have spent a longer time in all the different genres going on – whether is be a Hong Kong version of “Clerks”, a crime movie looking at the seedy world of underground bookmaking (and this is the first film ever to portray the result of Bolton Wonderers v Newcastle United as something which could matter as life or death) or even the crazy machinations of a lesbian ménage-a-trois.

It does have one minor mis-step.  There is a very short coda to the film called “If” which explores two potential outcomes to parts of the film if people had done something every so slightly different.  Whilst this is interesting, it seems a little out of kilter with the rest of the movie – more like alternative scenes on a DVD than actually part of the film.  Harmless enough, and does not ruin any enjoyment.

In short – I think this is a rather super little movie, well worth your time.

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