The first independent film to emerge from the former British colony since the changeover to China in 1997, "Made in Hong Kong" is an intoxicating drama about teenage alienation.
The narrator and central character Autumn Moon (Lee) is a high school drop-out, whose father has abandoned his family for his mainland mistress. Moon now works as a debt collector for a Triad member Wing, and it's on his daily rounds with the simple-minded Sylvester (Li) that he falls for Ping (Yim), the daughter of one of his debtors. She is suffering from a fatal kidney disease, so the teenager decides to accept an assassination contract to pay for her medical fees. He continues, however, to be haunted in his dreams by visions of a female classmate (Tam) who committed suicide. And when Ping herself dies, Moon decides to take revenge on the adult world.
The plotting to "Made in Hong Kong" may be over elaborate and the scenes of bloodshed predictably familiar, yet writer-director Fruit Chan's vision of youthful nihilism still carries a heartfelt charge. This is Hong Kong seen from a new perspective - a world not of glittering office blocks but of anonymous housing estates, fractured families, and ubiquitous crime, in which according to Moon, "There is no true or false, no right or wrong."
Impressively shot on hand-held cameras, it boasts convincing performances from the non-professional cast, whilst amidst all the pessimism, hopelessness and self-destructive behaviour, there are sequences such as a daytrip to the cemetery of genuine lyricism. The concluding Mao monologue that can be heard on the soundtrack - "You young people of flourishing exuberance in these thriving times" - makes for a powerfully ironic resolution. Made for just $100,000, it shows that a low budget need not be a hindrance to cinematic creativity.