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Legend of cinema, kung fu and gang warfare, this action film lights up Cannes



City of Darkness : between modernity and nostalgia

Known in China for directing the trilogy The Monkey King (2014-2018), Hong Kong director Soi Cheang recently slapped us in the face with Limbo (2023), a sublime black and white thriller, fra Seven AND Memories of murder. After this film (released in Hong Kong in 2021), the director was not left idle. He turned Crazy fatescheduled for this summer, and Twilight of the Warriors: Walled Inpresent in the midnight screening at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival under the title City of Darkness. A session that really attracted attention, as the film is a pure action pleasure, between modernity and homage to the Hong Kong cinema of the 80s.

Sammo Hung - The Dark City ©Metropolitan FilmExport
Sammo Hung – The Dark City ©Metropolitan FilmExport

A tribute that we feel from the casting, given that Soi Cheang has brought together for the occasion a legend of martial arts films and well-known faces of Hong Kong cinema in general. This is how we find the emblematic Sammo Hungwhich obviously should not be reduced to the series The Shanghai Policeman his career is so impressive. Alongside him is Richie Jen (Jackie Chan in Hong Kong, Latest news) and the charismatic Louis Koo (The legend of Zu, Election). In City of Darkness, all three represent an older generation of criminals. Older, but still influential leaders who have experience a bloody gang war in the past.

Now, in the 1980s, peace reigns as each gang remains on its own territory. Until the day Chan Lok-kwun (Raymond Lam), an illegal migrant, takes refuge Kowloon Citadel, after escaping Mr. Big’s (Sammo Hung) triads. It is there that he meets Tornade (Louis Koo), the owner of the place, who agrees to take him under his protection.

A crumbling citadel as a setting for a pure action film

After walking around Hong Kong like a garbage city Limbo, Soi Cheang once again presents a very unique setting with the Kowloon Citadel. A real place that was destroyed in 1993. Here’s how a dilapidated city in the middle of the Hong Kong we are discovering. But the director manages to bring out a certain beauty through this surprising architecture. Plus there’s some good in this place, thanks to the values ​​of Tornado, who runs the place. Through this heroic figure, the director does not show a simple criminal, but a man of honor who tries to do the best he can.

And so do three young friends who will befriend Lok-kwun. A quartet is then formed to embody the new generation who will suffer the consequences of an old conflict. Or how the past always disturbs the present…

City of Darkness ©Metropolitan FilmExport
City of Darkness ©Metropolitan FilmExport

There are many things to say about it City of Darkness and its themes, or even its choice to evoke a part of Hong Kong’s history in this way – in such a complicated period, due to an increasingly violent and dominant Chinese regime. Furthermore, Soi Cheang’s proposal is certainly not insignificant such a nostalgic workwhere the emphasis is on friendship and solidarity. But beyond its subtext, the film remains above all a pure action film, violent and dynamic. Remembering at first The raid (2011), City of Darkness gradually tends towards wu xia reusing its folklore and the exceptional skills of the fighters. A bit of “magic” which blends perfectly with Soi Cheang’s raw style. The action then reaches its climax in its last act, almost exhausting, but at the same time so enjoyable.

City of Darkness was presented in the Midnight Session at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. The film will be released in theaters on September 4th. Check out the trailer above.

Source: Cine Serie

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