White Mulberry Award for First Time Director Nominee
殺出個黃昏 (Saat Cheut Goh Wong Fan)
Hong Kong, 2021, 99’, Cantonese
Directed by: Ricky Ko
Script: Ho Ching-yi, Lam Ka-tung
Photography (color): Jam Yau
Editing: Yeung Kai-wing
Art Direction: Yeung Yiu-wah
Music: Tomy Wai
Producer: Lam Ka-tung
Cast: Patrick Tse (Chau), Petrina Fung (Fung), Lam Suet (Chung), Chung Suet-ying (Tsz-ying), Sam Lee (Fung’s son), JJ Jia (Fung’s daughter-in-law), Belinda Yan (Ching-ching), Zeno Koo (Ben), Chow Chung (rich old man), Stephanie Ho (young Fung), Lam Yiu-sing (young Chau), Fu Ka-chun (young Chun)
Date of First Release in Territory: TBA
Quirky humour, thoughtful drama and a fair bit of killing unfold in Time, the feature directing debut of Ricky Ko. The black comedy begins with a comic book-styled hit job set decades ago, as assassins Chau, Fung and Chung dispatch their target in a fruit market. After a cut to the present, Fung (Petrina Fung), now a nightclub owner and grandma, places a radio ad to find her old partners for another round of deadly business. Loner chef Chau (Patrick Tse) is still an ace with a blade, and van driver Chung (Lam Suet) is once more ready to handle transport.
After the three kick off work by ending a terminally ill woman’s life, Fung places oblique “Guardian Angels of the Elders” ads around town that attract elderly customers seeking assisted suicide. But a wrinkle in the scheme emerges for Chau when teenage girl Tsz-ying (Chung Suet-ying) springs a trap, then follows him to his village home and sticks around amid troubles with her beau (Zeno Koo). And Chau isn’t the only one with personal problems: Fung is at odds with her son (Sam Lee) and daughter-in-law (JJ Jia), and the lovelorn Chung is getting too involved with a hooker (Belinda Yan).
As the trio go about their shady work, get bogged down with personal issues, and come to reckon with time slipping away, Ricky Ko’s oddball feature offers plenty to intrigue and satisfy. Nostalgia plays a strong part, not just in casting veterans Patrick Tse and Petrina Fung – both major screen stars of the 1950s and ‘60s. The Golden Phoenix Cabaret that Fung runs is an old-style joint and the songs she sings are equally passé, Chau's cooking skills aren't appreciated in a fast-moving kitchen, and the location choices consistently eschew modern buildings. Layered on top is a gently comic vibe: Chau and his young visitor become an amusingly mismatched pair and the old man even helps teach Tsz-ying’s boyfriend a lesson, while other scenes see gentle humour sneaked in beside far weightier matter.
Casting is just as big of a draw. Former matinee idol Patrick Tse, known today for his flashy image, inhabits a weary and withdrawn character who slowly comes to drop his defences and lighten up. Petrina Fung, once a child star, gets a glamourous and emotional turn that includes bursts of song on top of drama. And Lam Suet carries a charmingly sympathetic role as someone overstretching for love and pleasure as he gets on in years. Other notable performers include young talents Chung Suet-ying and Zeno Koo, as well as Tse’s ‘60s screen partner Chow Chung, who plays a rich and isolated old man.
As a black comedy, Time carries its fair share of dark material – some of it especially disturbing. That’s the case with the undercurrent of elderly people so troubled that they’d rather be dead, and on that front Time sits alongside other films by new directors tackling social issues onscreen. Yet Ko and his collaborators are careful to not let hope slip away. For the trio of Chau, Fung and Chung, at least, it’s not too late to get their bearings and make the best of their golden years.
Ricky Ko has served as an assistant director for films including All’s Well, End’s Well Too 2010 (2010), Ip Man – The Final Fight (2013), Sara (2015), Project Gutenberg (2018) and The New King of Comedy (2019), and has also acted in movies. He made his directing debut with Time (2021).
2021 – Time