Monday, June 20, 2016

Weeds on Fire
Released March 26, 2016 (Hong Kong); July 4, 2016 (NYAFF 2016)
1 hr 35 mins
Language: Cantonese w/ English subtitles


Director/Writer: Chi Fat Chan

Liu Kai Chi as Principal Lo Kwon Fai
Lam Yiu Sing as Tse Chi Lung
Wu Tsz Tung Tony as Fan Chun Wai
Poon Chan Leung as Mr. Tsang (Sha Tin's Chief Commissioner)
Sun Li Man as Lung's Father
Shui Jie as Lung's Mother
Sham Ka Ki as Chan Keung
Or Wai Lam as Dung
Li Yui Hon Aris as Ka Leung
Wong Cheuk Lun as Monitor
Wong Ting Him as Lik Wong

In the year of 1984, Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed and the future of Hong Kong became unclear. In the stream of history, this story of a baseball team beneath the Lion Rock had gradually been forgotten: In that year, 'Shatin Martins', the first Hong Kong youth baseball team, was formed. The 10 young players were living an uneasy and restless life as Hong Kong. Being humiliated by one defeat after another, the faith of 'Shatin Martin' their strong rival, the Japanese Buffalo ins' hanged in the balance. However, the hardship only brought out their bravery to surmount themselves and overcome the struggles. Living in the golden age, these players ignited their glory with every game as they grew together with their city. Eventually, it all comes to the final game facing.

Review by Stephen M.

Weeds on Fire, a coming of age baseball story loosely based on true events in Hong Kong in the 1980s about the first youth baseball team in a small developing town.  What starts off like the Bad News Bears quickly shift gears by filmmaker Chi Fat Chan to focus on the tale of two friends with different temperaments heading in opposite directions in life.  Great story-telling complemented by great acting makes this film a great drama especially if you're a fan of baseball.

Overall, there is little to dislike about the film.  Yes, the underdog misfits rising to the top has been told in many different forms before like the before mentioned Bad News Bears and even Charlie Sheen's old Major League.  But while those are grounded in pure fiction as well more comedies than drama, Weeds on Fire has a genuine historical background to base off of which is the Shatin Martins.  Also what the story does well is meld a baseball tale with a coming of age story for the Shatin Martins star pitcher Tse Chi Lung played outstandingly by Lam Yiu Sing.  Liu Kai Chi as Principal Lo Kwon Fai was a bit mechanical, but okay.

The film plays at the New York Asian Film Festival on July 4th 2016 and would recommend watching this film if you have the chance.  Non baseball fans may not enjoy the film as much, but the baseball elements play an integral part in the set up and development of the characters making it a good drama to watch.  The after movie updates on the real team that the story is based off of is uplifting and not to be missed.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

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