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Cast and Crew
Cast: Byron Pang, Thomas Price,
Winnie Leung, Linda So
Director-screenwriter-producer: Scud
Executive director: Lawrence Lau
Director of photography: Charlie Lam
Production: Artwalker Limited.
Art director: Jack Chan
Music: Yu Yat Yiu & Ho Shan
Editor: Heiward Mak
Sales: media luna new films
Rating: No rating,
Released date:28/4/2010
97 minutes
Venue: Hong Kong International Film Festival
(closing film)
Cantonese| English

Hollywood movie online English movie online Drama movie Romantic movie online movie Review movie story Fantasy Movie Adventure Movie Action Movie Hong Kong Movie Amphetamine Directed By Scud

Movie Review:
Scud's latest effort is a brash, self-indulgent, homosexually charged film - but then no one was expecting it to be anything else. As such, AMPHETAMINE is forced to negotiate a number of tricky hurdles, both on and off screen, which it only occasionally manages to clear successfully. The story details the impassioned affair between openly gay banker, Daniel (Thomas Price) and the closeted, drug-addled lifeguard Kafka (Byron Pang). After spying him looking forlorn in a bar, Daniel offers Kafka a ride in his Ferrari, whisking him off to his luxurious apartment, where he attempts to woo him with his affluent lifestyle. Although we've previously seen Kafka getting paid to give hand jobs in the sauna, he has an ex-girlfriend and insists he is straight. Daniel is not put off however, and invites Kafka to move into his apartment, away from the bad influences of his ice-smoking older brother. But Daniel's efforts appear too little too late and Kafka's drug use threatens to forever threaten their union.
I have no problem watching films about homosexual relationships, even when portrayed as graphically as they are here - and for a Hong Kong movie, Scud leaves precious little to the imagination and includes plentiful full-frontal nudity. What does cause me discomfort is when gay characters are portrayed as being so cloyingly camp as both Price and Pang do here. Whether these actors are in fact homosexual or not is beside the point; what they are unable to do is act like a couple in love, lust or even comfortable with each other. It is one thing to portray an awkward relationship, it is another thing to watch two men touching each other with such obvious restraint. It is a sentiment that is unintentionally projected onto the audience - a feeling compounded by the continual use of clunking, lifeless English dialogue. This is not a phenomenon unique to AMPHETAMINE, local productions regularly struggle to deliver performances in English with anything approaching realism, and I understand the difficulty for directors to coach line readings in a tongue not their own. However, more often than not the actors in question are speaking in their first language, so surely should be able to perform naturally. But alas, their performances grate with discomforting awkwardness.

To its credit, AMPHETAMINE is filmed beautifully and boasts some breathtaking vistas of Hong Kong harbour from various picturesque locales. Heiward Mak's editing also lends the film a dreamlike, drug-induced quality that eases the pain of the plodding narrative and deadwood performances. What it doesn't do, however, is bring any sense of authenticity to the film's numerous depictions of drug use, which remain naïve and tedious right up until Kafka's final, patience-snapping bird impression. Yes, bird impression, complete with wings, nest and bobbing head.

There is no doubt AMPHETAMINE will be cut before release in Hong Kong cinemas and is never likely to see the light of day north of the border, but even without broaching the censorship issue, the film will struggle to find much of an audience, because it really isn't very good. There is an argument that independent filmmakers such as Scud, who work outside the system broaching challenging and controversial subjects, should be supported and encouraged. I disagree. The fact that they wrestle with difficult social issues - or just fill their films with lots of shots of naked men - shouldn't gift them carte blanche to turn in any old nonsense and expect it to be received with open arms. Clearly, A-list actors would be impossible to cast in AMPHETAMINE's leading roles, but the acting on display only further highlights the lack of breadth in the HK industry. With no middle ground in the talent pool and with a lack of willing investment there is no hope for growth. However, without decent writing, vision or relevance - and in all honesty, AMPHETAMINE feels decades after-the-fact - it's little wonder Hong Kong struggles to release more than a handful of half-decent films each year.

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