Mad Fate

Making Waves – Navigators of Hong Kong Cinema

Mad Fate

命案 (Mihng on)

Hong Kong, 2023, 108’, Cantonese
Directed by: Soi Cheang
Screenplay: Yau Nai-hoi, Melvin Li (story by Yau and Au Kin-yee)
Photography (color): Cheng Siu-keung
Editing: Allen Leung
Production Design: Bruce Yu 
Music: Chung Chi-wing, Ben Cheung
Producers: Johnnie To, Yau Nai-hoi, Elaine Chu
Cast: Lam Ka-tung (the master), Lokman Yeung (Siu Tung), Berg Ng (detective), Ng Wing-sze (Jo), Peter Chan (the murderer), Bonnie Wong (Siu Tung’s mother), Ko Tin-lung (Siu Tung’s father), Yuen Yee-man (Siu Tung’s sister), Birdy Wong (May), Pancy Chan (pregnant police officer)

Date of First Release in Territory: April 20th, 2023


With his 2021 film Limbo, Soi Cheang pushed his filmmaking deeper into squalor and punishing atmospherics, building on approaches he’d applied through a series of dark early films. The extremes continue in the horror and sordid humour of Mad Fate, and so too do the positive sentiments Cheang admits into even his most frightful visions.
The story centres on a fortune teller (Lam Ka-tung), credited only as “the master,” who tries to intervene in the fate of troubled delivery boy Siu Tung (Lokman Yeung). The master believes in the ability to change a person’s destiny, and an attempt to do just that opens the film. When his plan to stop a threat to a prostitute’s life goes wrong in a cemetery and she rushes back to her flat, the master follows but reaches her building too late. By then, she has already been visited by a serial killer who’s hunting down hookers.
Standing outside her door during the attack is Siu Tung, stunned by the cries for help and clearly not quite with it mentally. Once the master and Siu Tung are taken to a police station, it emerges that the young man is known to the cops for his cruelty to cats and has a thing for knives. When the master senses something bad in Siu Tung’s future, he convinces the young man to have his fortune read – sure enough, Siu Tung was born under a bad sign. “A great calamity is coming for you,” warns the master, adding the prediction of 20 years in jail. Siu Tung isn’t keen on being locked up again, so he asks for help.
The master’s first intervention is set up at Siu Tung’s home: the apartment gets pink lighting over the front door, removal of a birdcage (it symbolises jail) and a strategically placed glass of pee (“The urine should keep the law away”). But doom-laden complications mean the master next moves the young man into a rooftop hut. And it’s then, while looking at a plant, that the master has an epiphany: “A flower must wither before bearing fruit,” he exclaims, before staging stronger actions accordingly. From that point on, the master’s methods get weirder as they expand to include handing out free vegetarian meals and finding a spirit to possess Siu Tung’s body. And all the while the master feels he’s on the edge of madness, given a family history of insanity. 
Hong Kong cinema’s harsh tone shifts make many appearances as Mad Fate careens between bleakness, violence and comedy. This is a film where a brutal murderer can score laughs giving physiotherapy tips to a cop, and where the soundtrack runs from the Colonel Bogey March to a music box to more traditional horror-cinema scoring.
Lam Ka-tung, who excelled in Limbo, returns for another punishing performance. All nerves and energy, it’s an intense part that propels the picture. But the big surprise is the performance by Lokman Yeung. A dancer and member of popular boy band Mirror, Yeung is best known to film buffs for his rough-edged debut role in The Way We Dance (2013). Here Yeung’s dance skills are channelled into a brilliantly physical portrayal of Siu Tung, a role limited in dialogue but speaking volumes in body language.
Mad Fate eventually charges into a splendidly crazed and stylised rooftop showdown. But just when moviegoers risk being overwhelmed by the chaotic sepia-toned spectacle, the picture shifts into a quiet coda with advice on how best to act in the face of future adversity. In Soi Cheang’s cinema, even the most twisted scenarios hold room for hope.


Soi Cheang


Soi Cheang (Hong Kong, 1972) worked as an assistant director for the likes of filmmakers Ringo Lam, Andrew Lau and Wilson Yip before his directorial debut in 1999. Cheang’s first movies were shot on digital video before he moved to 35mm with Diamond Hill in 2000. Since then he has made a name for himself in horror (Horror Hotline... Big Head Monster, New Blood), thrillers (Love Battlefield, Dog Bite Dog, Accident) and fantasy epics (The Monkey King). Cheang has also been active as a producer with films including Paradox (2017) and i’m livin’ it (2019).


1999 – Our Last Day 
2000 – Diamond Hill
2001 – Horror Hotline... Big Head Monster
2004 – Love Battlefield 
2006 – Dog Bite Dog
2009 – Accident 
2012 – Motorway 
2014 – The Monkey King 
2021 – Limbo
2023 – Mad Fate 

Tim Youngs
Film director: Soi CHEANG
Year: 2023
Running time: 108'
Country: Hong Kong
27/04 - 11:40 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
27-04-2023 11:40 27-04-2023 13:28Europe/Rome Mad Fate Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine