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Ordinary Heroes

Posted by martinteller on June 3, 2013

I have time for only a quick review at the moment, but I may come back and flesh it out more later.  Ann Hui tries to blend human drama on a small scale with a modern history of social activism on a larger scale.  Unfortunately, in the effort she comes up short on both fronts.  The film is most compelling when we feel the activism coming from the hearts of the characters, and its relationship to the unrequited romance between Sow and Tung.  Too often, however, the activism scenes feel tacked on, a construct for introducing another lesson.  And while I’m being critical, I would also say the score is sometimes far too precious.

However, the performance by Anthony Wong (as Father Lam) is something quite special, and I really liked Rachel Lee (a.k.a. Loletta Lee) too.  It’s very strange for me to see Kang-sheng Lee in a film not directed by Ming-liang Tsai or himself.  I don’t think he does very well when the script calls for highly emotive scenes, he seems much better suited to ultra-restrained performances.  I have read that his performance here is dubbed, but I couldn’t tell.

Overall, Hui’s heart is in the right place, and when that heart shows through, the film shines.  Sadly, it doesn’t happen enough.  Rating: Fair (66)


2 Responses to “Ordinary Heroes”

  1. Evan said

    I’m sure it’s likely you’ve already heard this, but Criterion has announced DVD releases for two of your top 10 favorites movies; Satyajit Ray’s “Mahanagar” and “Charulata”. Extremely exciting news and long overdue!

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