New to Blu: Port of Call (2015) - Reviewed

aaron kwok
Now on Blu-ray
Available on Blu-ray at YesAsia for a more reasonable price than most of the other retailers is the Hong Kong film Port of Call, a rather somber character study set within the settings of a crime thriller. It is about the murder of a 16 year old prostitute and the intermingling of the lives of the deceased girl, her killer, and the lead detective in the case. It is a complex tale that examines each of their depressing lives and how the events in them led to the girl’s murder.

The narrative moves back and forth in time for each of the three main characters, providing us with a complete and fully formed picture of who these people are and the motivations behind their actions and emotions. This non-linear narrative is going to be the main issue for most people, especially if they aren’t used to watching a foreign picture. This can complicate things and make it confusing and difficult for some viewers to follow. It was a bold decision to take and is effective in slowly revealing the ultimate reason behind the murder.

The performances are all very good, notably from the three main characters. Veteran actor and musician Aaron Kwok (The Stormriders) plays the veteran Detective Chong, who is obsessed with the case and becomes greatly affected by the murder because of personal issues. He has an interesting physical demeanor in the role, somewhat hunched over and his glasses are always falling down. The white frosty hair makes him look aged and haggard from the job. Newcomers Jessie Li and Michael Ning play the prostitute and murderer, who both have deep personal issues themselves and display a great deal of range in their portrayals.

There is superb composition and camera placement, with veteran cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Hero) behind the camera. Several sequences interestingly play out like they would in a theatrical performance, with the lights dimming out and focusing on only one or two characters. Most of the scenes that go into the past are shown in black and white, with just a few hints of color at times. There is also one wildly surrealistic dream sequence that you would normally see in a horror movie. The orchestral score is outstanding, containing a mix of piano composition, strings, and one haunting song from Ding Ke.
The motion picture was pretty much nominated in every category at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 52nd Golden Horse Awards, receiving wins at the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Screenplay, every actor and actress category and Best Cinematography.

aaron kowk
Hey, what's up with all of those pockets?

If you like character dramas that try to touch on societal issues and don’t hold back on the sex and violence, then this may interest you.

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-Raul Vantassle