Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plastic City

Anthony Wong in Brazil!
USS Iwo Jima docks in Costa Rica!
"24 City" director Yu Lik-wai rips some pages out of the Latin-American Surrealists playbook!

Buckle up, this will be a long one.

This alleged review is a tale of the end game of Capitalism, the shattering of Libertarian Idealism at the hands of reality, all in the service of a movie steeped and delivered in plasma blasted super saturated imagery...

Yes, I'm an ex-libertarian. Yes, I do believe the end result of one world not nation-states or transnats, where we all get the stakes of our actions, and work to help each other is a worthy goal. My time in the 3rd world, brief as it has been, has shown me just how far off we are, and how difficult the transition is going to be.

San Jose, Costa Rica on foot is a terrific experience. The spouse and I walked up and down busy crowded streets passed dozens of shops selling the latest in Chinese....everything. Granada had a multi block open air market selling used books from the United States, used Clothing from the United States, cheap electronics, counterfeit fashion and footware as well as local fruits and vegetables.

Managua Nicaragua has 2 large markets, miles of tin and plastic covered stalls, selling everything from dried herbs to cologne, and toys from a decade ago. These markets are jammed with buyers and sellers, and, in these economic times, mostly sellers.

Sao Paolo, Brazil is apparently much like the Central American cities I mention. The spouse informs me that Sao Paolo has the largest Japanese diaspora in the world. Yu Lik-wai films a fantastic and diverse multi-ethnic street scene, bustling with races, colors and languages.

This relates to the movie very directly: Anthony Wong traveled to Paraguay via Brazil from China to set up a counterfeit goods distribution center. 20 years into it he has an adopted Japanese son, a small empire centered in Sao Paolo, and political connections aplenty. Along comes FTAA.

With that as the bare thread of a plot, one can extrapolate where the tale goes, but one might not anticipate some truly startling parkour along the way and the first "rooftop" fight scene to approach what Wimmer did in Ultraviolet with Milla against the Blood-Chinois.

The soundtrack is minimal glitch ambient, mutated sound field recordings with snatches of 70's Funk, J-pop and Arabica grating up against digital feedback and distortion. Heavy, appropriated and appropriate. The mix of Portuguese, Cantonese and English as the spoken languages was a terrific stab at authenticity, regardless of the speaker's actual skill-level.

I've mentioned the surreal sequences already, but the camera is not to be missed. Surreal doesn't mean hectic, doesn't mean hyperactive, but does mean colorful. These seem to be mostly film and camera rather than digital manipulation, which lends an organic quality to every frame.

This film is so much more than a gangster movie, so much more than a political film. One only has to have seen a single Anthony Wong film to know that a film like this has to brim with soul.

A friend once dated a Korean woman who told him Korea's relationship with the United States was like having a Tiger in the kitchen, one felt safe but hoped the Tiger never got angry.

I wonder what the White Tiger that appears in Plastic City symbolizes...



  1. Cool, thanks for the review. I added it to my Netflix to watch when it becomes available.

  2. You won't be disappointed!(accept perhaps in how long it takes Netflix to procure)