Double Feature: An Inspector Calls (2015) & A Home With A View (2019)


Our double features are back! Before Fantasia Festival back in end of June, we pretty much wrapped up the last round of Netflix “alphabet” rundown. This time is more of a random deal although coincidentally, I ended up picking a Herman Yau/Louis Koo double feature for two Hong Kong dark comedies.

Let’s check it out!

An Inspector Calls (2015)

an inspector calls

Director: Raymond Wong & Herman Yau

Cast: Louis Koo, Eric Tsang, Hans Zhang, Ka Tung Lam, Teresa Mo, Karena Ng, Liu Yan, Chrissie Chow

When Inspector Kau arrives at the Kau manor before a lavish engagement party, he brings news of a young woman’s suicide – and he has questions – Netflix

Adapted from the English play of the same name, An Inspector Calls is a slapstick dark comedy re-enacting the story set in a mansion of a bankrupted but pretending to be wealthy family and factory owner as the father tries to marry off his daughter to the son of a rich family. On the day of the marriage, an inspector barges in telling them of a young woman’s suicide and how unexpectedly, each of them are connected to it in one way or another. Well in the heart of slapstick humor that is quite dominant in Hong Kong cinema (when not doing action or thrillers), An Inspector Calls in its Hong Kong Cantonese adaptation captures the heart of the story as the intertwined society links to one another and different chains of this society will beat a person down unexpectedly. Each of these characters are suitably over the top in their performances, the story itself is quite entertaining as well as while I’ve heard of the story, I’ve never actually read the play that its based on.

An Inspector Calls is full of talented cast. With the father played by Eric Tsang, the mother played by Teresa Mo, the older son played by Ka-Tung Lam, the son-in-law by Han Zhang and the inspector played by Louis Koo. The daughter and the daughter-in-law to be being the young actress roles that I’m less familiar with. However, looking at this cast, Eric Tsang and Teresa Mo play once again a married couple (I had seen them as a couple in 2 Young) and here as a powerhouse duo that just steals away their scenes together and its probably why Netflix chooses their scene in their massive walk-in closet as they turn around running after each other as he catches her up on the inspector’s arrival and the chaos that he was causing. On the other hand, Louis Koo doesn’t do so many comedies anymore but he definitely has the skills for it and is a refreshing take from the recent years of making action and crime thrillers and such. Clad with popular Mainland China actor Han Zhang, who definitely does do well in this film as well.

As intriguing as the story is, especially for myself originally not too familiar with the premise, what caught my eye were all these great performances which was absurd and yet so hilarious, reminding me of the humor I missed from Stephen Chow’s films in the 90s.

A Home With A View (2019)

a home with a view

Director: Herman Yau

Cast: Francis Ng, Anita Yuen, Louis Koo, Tat-Ming Cheung, Jocelyn Choi, Siu-Hin Ng, Suet Lam, Anthony Wong

When a neighbor blocks their view of the city with a commercial billboard, a Hong Kong family resorts to drastic, imaginative measures to take it down. – Netflix

A Home With A View is a real breath of fresh air. Sure, it tackles this dark comedy in a rather absurd way. It also is adapted from a play written by fellow cast member Tat-Ming Cheung who portrays the grandfather role in the film who is renowned Hong Kong comedian. A feature of Hong Kong comedians is their desire to bring out the issues of the Hong Kong society through a very sarcastic way. In this case, he’s taken these characters for a glimpse of losing a slice of solace can cause especially in the expense of others who are in another dilemma trying to survive as well as the expense of commercialism and economic wealth of the city itself. What is a reality of Hong Kong since the 1997 handover followed by the financial crisis that took place over the past few decades and then the change of the economy and political status, is shown well here with the ineffectiveness of a lot of the society.

I’ve always been a fan of using humor to talk about the more important issues surrounding us and to myself, that type of dark/sarcastic humor is my cup of tea so suffice to say that a lot of this film lands well. I’ve never seen the original play or read it or anything but the adaptation into a film works really well and a lot has to do with some sharp writing and well-timed humor. Of course, a lot of credit has to go to the talented cast here that supports the younger cast who plays the daughter and son. Francis Ng and Anita Yuen paired together are very fun. At the same time, they are met with some supporting characters who appear in some cases like cameo and others to help push the story in a certain direction. A Home With A View is a witty sort of deal. There were some bits here and there that might fall short in its comedy but for the most part, its actually a very smart piece of cinema filled with great performances and well-paced throughout and sharp dialogue. I don’t watch as many Hong Kong comedy films than I used to in the 90s or even early 2000s but this one really revived some of that hope to seek up some more in this vein, maybe another Herman Yau one since he seems to direct comedy movies that I enjoyed.

That’s it for this double feature!
Both films are currently on Netflix Canada with pretty decent subtitles.

2 Young (2005)

2 Young is one of my most favorite recent Hong Kong movies.  To me, its a hidden gem because it does nothing to attract the audience in the first place but I like to root for the underdog and pick up weird movies.  This one features Jackie Chan‘s son Jaycee Chan and I’m completely interested in how his career has been.  This is not my first viewing but its been 2-3 years since I last saw it.

2 young posterDirector: Derek Yee

Cast: Jaycee Chan, Fiona Sit, Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong, Teresa Mo, On-On Yu

Fu (Jaycee Chan) is a young 18 year old in night school trying to complete his high school diploma while his family is not very well off.  Nam (Fiona Sit) is the complete opposite: She is a 16 year old private school student whose parents are known lawyers in Hong Kong who are rich and have no time for her.  Fu is attracted to her and looks for her outside her school every day from a distance until one time, Nam approaches him and asks him to take a chance to sneak in at the school’s annual Christmas party.  After that, when they went camping together on New Year’s, they decided to have sex and few months later realizes that she is pregnant.  Against both of their parents’s wishes, they run away and try to take care of themselves, be together and eventually take care of their future baby.  With no help, no education and no money, they are forced to take things as it comes.  Question is: will their young relationship be able to tough it out?

2 young 1

I’ve seen this movie since its release about 3-4 times.  Every time it impacts me as its the first time I’ve seen it.  Young, innocent, naive and reckless love happens all the time, so why does this impact me so much? 2 Young has a lot of pedigree.  First off, we have Derek Yee, who is an amazing director.  I haven’t reviewed much of his newer work but 10 years before this, he did Full Throttle and you can see the review HERE. He knows how to get the right shots and use the right tone.

2 young 3

Second of all, he has a great cast.  I’m going to start off with the more renowned supporting cast.  Eric Tsang is an Golden Horse Best Actor (Hong Kong equivalent of Oscars).  He’s is a phenomenal actor.  He is in the very famous Infernal Affairs, for example. This guy plays the father of Fu in this one.  A poor, uneducated but morally correct man who wants to just love his wife and take care and protect his family.  Playing opposite him is an actress who reappeared in the business with this movie, Teresa Mo used to be in a bunch of Stephen Chow’s movies and she does a great job and playing the common housewife and caring mother and supportive wife.  The two mesh so well together.  Then we come to an even more popular actor possibly: Anthony Wong.  He plays the restricting and overly controlling and protective father of Nam who really just loses how to be a father and a husband at the same time as being a successful lawyer.  Most of the time in the movie, I wanted to push him in the face to wake him up.  That means he did a good job because I think that stubborn act really came through perfectly.

2 young 4

Third point is the unexpected factor.  Back in 2005, Fiona Sit was cooling off a bit from her pretty successful pop star career and really I never expected much from her in this one but she has her charm. This was her first movie after a Hong Kong police drama.   Jaycee Chan is Jackie Chan’s son so a lot of people have their eyes on how his future will turn out.  He had already dipped his feet in a movie before (that I didn’t see) and also a bit into a singing career.  He was completely new to me.  What captured me was the storyline itself but these two had amazing chemistry and they acted the hell out of their roles.  Maybe its because they are also young and they can somewhat relate to the pain, suffering but bittersweet love.  They can feel their generation better so they fell right into the roles but they were downright amazing, tugged at my heartstrings and I loved them both so much.  Let me just saying, my respect for them grew quite a bit after this.

2 young 2

I’m definitely going to recommend this.  2 Young is directed well, has wonderful and believeable characters to reflect on a social issue of young love and its consequences that shows that its not only sweet but tough.  Its not only the view of the young ones but also parents. With a phenomenal cast from the young main actors and the renowned older ones as supporting roles, this movie successfully pulls the audience right in from the start and lets you experience a heartwarming and at times, heartbreaking journey.  Its a well-executed story about young and reckless love and whether they can learn to take care of themselves and support people they love.   As much as it seems like a romance, I’d say its more along the lines of coming of age story. If you ever come across it,  its well worth your time.