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Hi, Fidelity
Hi, Fidelity

Michelle Ye, Carrie Ng and Pat Ha play around in Hi, Fidelity.
Chinese: 出軌的女人
Year: 2011
Director: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writer: Yang Yee-Shan, Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung
Cast: Pat Ha Man-Chik, Michelle Ye, Carrie Ng Ka-Lai, William Chan Wai-Ting, Candace Yu On-On, Chapman To Man-Chat, Bonnie Xian, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, George Lam Chi-Cheung, Shaun Tam Chun-YinGregory Wong Chung-Yiu, Carlos Chan Ka-Lok, Belinda Hamnett, Michelle Loo, Brian Li Pak-Woon
The Skinny: Hi, Fidelity tries to be serious, but its lurid excesses, absurd plot twists and trashy melodrama only make it laughable. Fun as B-movie trash, if not quality cinema. Featuring the return of Pat Ha and Carrie Ng, who both deserve better.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Trashy melodrama alert! Hi, Fidelity has an intriguing premise, some worthy actors and a clever English language title, but beyond that this "women's drama" is bewildering if not insulting. Calvin Poon (who's dabbled in movies, music, art and probably stock car racing over the years) co-wrote and directed this exploration of older women rediscovering or reaffirming their sexuality, but any insight he offers is overwhelmed by bad storytelling and worse direction. Hi, Fidelity is a five-alarm misfire, taking its promising and mature subject matter and making it trashy rather than compelling. However, by attempting quality and failing spectacularly, the film does manage entertainment. It's just in that awful B-movie way – which, granted, is just what the doctor ordered for a certain type of audience. Just avoid this movie if you’re not that type.

Hi, Fidelity concerns four married upper class women who regularly travel across the Hong Kong-China border to visit a “duck club” (slang for gigolo club), the result being a reawakening of their sexuality or maybe just some time-killing fun with handsome cut guys. The youngest (played by Bonnie Xian) is here only for scenery or exposition, leaving the other three to do the heavy lifting. Those three (played by Pat Ha, Michelle Ye and Carrie Ng) have their work cut out for them, as each possesses enough personal drama to fill up their own movie. They have only one film to share, so good luck there. The other main character is the lead gigolo Bill, played by William Chan. Bill's charms are apparently so prodigious that he's desired by everyone. Realistically, it’s difficult for his supply to meet the demand, but Bill claims he's got the stamina of at least two guys, so bring on the customers! Men everywhere should be humbled by the work ethic of William Chan.

There's a secret to how Bill is able to perform so tirelessly, plus there's a secret behind Bill's longtime customer/friend Josephine (Michelle Ye) and her marriage to a tough-seeming triad (Chapman To). And hey, there's a secret behind the driver (Shaun Tam) for frustrated wife Mrs. Ho (Carrie Ng), who regularly neglects her son (Buzz Chung of Echoes of the Rainbow) to go happy across the border. Bing Bing (Pat Ha) doesn't have a secret – instead, it's her husband (George Lam) who's tomcatting on her, which is why Bing Bing agrees to follow pal Josephine to the club in the first place. But Josephine has her own secret about why she's bringing Bing Bing to the club. Josephine is also afraid that one of the gigolos may know her husband's friends, and doesn't want her secret of going to the club to get out. However, her fear is not for the reason the audience thinks because of yet another secret that has yet to be divulged. Good God! It's like a fifty-car pile-up of secrets! What's not a secret in Hi, Fidelity? That this is a bad movie.

Backing up a bit, Hi, Fidelity certainly means well, and possesses social issues buried beneath its soapy plot excesses (socially conscious screenwriter Yeeshan Yang co-wrote the script). Also, the film contains eye-opening performances from some long absent Hong Kong Cinema actresses. Back in the day, Pat Ha and Carrie Ng turned in fine, frequently compelling work, so seeing them onscreen again is a treat. However, only one of the two is good in Hi, Fidelity. Pat Ha is the good one, and manages to remain dignified even when the bad synth score, obnoxious music cues and overstuffed script undercut her performance. Carrie Ng unfortunately goes way overboard; she plays a woman who voraciously wishes for love, and her performance is as subtle and quietly nuanced as a stampede of rabid cats. Michelle Ye also has inexplicable moments, but her character’s secrets allow a more uninhibited range, which she bravely covers. William Chan deserves credit for simply taking on this egoless, image-busting role.

In Hi, Fidelity’s defense, the pieces of its outrageous plot are plausible – at least, more so than the outlandish web of secrets one would see on a TV drama like Desperate Housewives, an obvious if perhaps unintended comparison to the film. The problem is that Hi, Fidelity assembles its secrets poorly, presenting them far too quickly and superficially. The filmmakers essentially trot out new secrets to trump previous ones, going for shock value instead of character or story development. It’s like a game of “Top This!” with escalating soap opera tropes continually shoved in the face of the amused and hopefully inebriated audience. Here’s where the film can entertain. There’s rubbernecking fun in the spectacle of name stars violating the Hong Kong Entertainment Manual of Approved Chaste Image™, and when the material is this delightfully trashy, sordid fun is all but assured. This type of B-movie melodrama once was a regular fixture of Hong Kong Cinema, and viewed through those rose-colored glasses, you can have a good time. This is guilty, dirty fun that you should never attempt to take seriously - filmmaker intentions or attempted social issues be damned. If that sounds like your boat, then see Hi, Fidelity post-haste. Just take a 10-minute shower afterwards to wash off all the dirt. (Kozo 2011)

 

Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

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