Diamond Hill- -
Carrie Ng and Hui Siu-hung play the adoptive parents of Maggie Poon, whose brother they leave in the orphanage. He escapes and hides under his sister’s bed, setting up camp there for the next several years. Brother and sister are torn apart again when Carrie Ng sells the bed and Maggie races through the night to rescue her lost sibling.
One year before HORROR HOTLINE, Soi Cheang’s unclassifiable DIAMOND HILL highlighted his suitability to redefine the Chinese horror film.
From a wistful pre-credit flashback, the film soon takes on the language of psycho-horror before changing direction once more when the sibling protagonists’ dark secret is revealed. Cheang blends different genres together in an always-engaging tale with an unexpected love story at its heart; a story that maintains its purity amid incestuous affairs. When two poor village children are orphaned, the sister May finds a new home in the Cheung family with middle-class foster parents who have no room or desire to take in her wild elder brother, Heung-hoi. He soon takes to roaming the streets looking for her, intent that they will reunite and live together again. The brother makes a huge sacrifice to attain this dream that shocks the police investigating his sudden reappearance, and soon Heung-hoi is on the run with a gun and a camcorder-equipped burglar in tow. Director Cheang returns to the digital video filmmaking techniques used in his earlier OUR LAST DAY for the childhood flashback scenes as he weaves his narrative. Both films share thematic concerns and visual symbolism which would later be revisited in HORROR HOTLINE. Present-day scenes shot on film are rarely flashy but project the story forward without distraction, aided by low-key acting from the protagonists. The film is uniformly low-budget in its indie feel and appearance, from artistic licence down to Chan Chin-pang’s crude make-up. Returning to the big screen after her fine performance in SPACKED OUT, Maggie Poon stands out as elder sister May. Stand-up comic Cheung Tat-ming as the burglar, also over-the-top in Edmond Pang’s YOU SHOOT I SHOOT, enlivens proceedings in film’s second half. Tai Hom Village at Diamond Hill serves as a backdrop for the childhood flashback sequences and adds an additional sense of nostalgia: the sprawling village site was already vacated by Diamond Hill’s November 2000 theatrical release in the government’s urban renewal campaign. Imaoka Shinji is the most prolific of the “shichifukujin”, successful as a director as well as a scriptwriter. His films focus on daily life experiences, a feature he shares with Sato Toshiki who adapted Imaoka’s script into MOANS FROM NEXT DOOR.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival