Review: THE MIDNIGHT AFTER 那夜凌晨, 我坐上了旺角開往大埔的紅VAN (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Review: THE MIDNIGHT AFTER 那夜凌晨, 我坐上了旺角開往大埔的紅VAN (2014)

Funny and macabre, THE MIDNIGHT AFTER is quirky if uneven apocalyptic horror comedy.

Hong Kong cinema is no stranger to some movies where different genres are mixed altogether. And one such movie is Fruit Chan's high-concept apocalyptic horror comedy, THE MIDNIGHT AFTER, which is currently a box office hit in Hong Kong.

Based on the web series-turned-bestselling novel Lost On A Red Mini Bus To Tai Po by a Hong Kong writer who goes by the pen name of "Pizza", THE MIDNIGHT AFTER centres on 17 Hong Kong passengers who all board a late-night minibus heading to Tai Po in the New Territories. The minibus is driven by a portly gambler Suet (Lam Suet), while some of the passengers inside are including long-haired young man You Chi-Chi (Wong You-Nam); debt collector Wong Man-Fat (Simon Yam); mousy-looking Yuki (Janice Man); fortune teller-cum-insurance saleswoman Sister Ying (Kara Hui); married couple Bobby and Pat (Lee Sheung-Ching, Vincci Cheuk); bespectacled IT specialist Shun (Chui Tien-You); geeky Auyeung Wai (Jan Curious); drug addict Blind Fai (Sam Lee); and bucktoothed young woman LV (Melodes Mak). As soon as the minibus passes through the Lion Rock Tunnel, things turn weird when the street becomes completely deserted. After finally reached Tai Po, the group begins to question about the mysterious occurrence around them.
Despite its low-budget status, director Fruit Chan manages to stage an effective setup that keeps you guessing because the way he blends different genre -- from sci-fi, comedy, action, melodrama to horror -- with his unique, anything-goes filmmaking style. In fact, how often you get to watch a Hong Kong movie where the bustling city like Hong Kong is as eerily quiet as 28 DAYS LATER-like famous opening scene? But the best thing about THE MIDNIGHT AFTER is the inclusion of his trademark local flavour filled with relevant social commentaries and pop-culture references such as the notorious SARS virus, the Candy Crush craze and the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.

Acting-wise, all the actors here -- both young and old -- are excellent. But the real standouts here are Wong You-Nam, Janice Man, Simon Yam (minus his funny haircut), Lam Suet and of course, Fruit Chan's regular, Sam Lee.

The bicycle chase scene at the deserted highway where You try to escape from the three infected university-student passengers; an amusing scene where Auyeung Wai sings the whole song of David Bowie's Space Oddity in front of the group; and the violent but blackly comic scene where each person from the group takes turn to stab one of them who responsible for raping a particular woman with a small knife.

Some of the scenes during the second half of the movie tends to drag, while the climactic finale where the group encounters a gang of gas-masked individuals -- especially during the car chase scene -- is a huge disappointment. Suffice to say, those who are expecting a satisfying payoff will be left hanging on the edge.

Despite some of the flaws, THE MIDNIGHT AFTER remains one of Fruit Chan's most fascinating movies to date since 2004's DUMPLINGS and also qualified as one of the best Hong Kong movies of the year. For those who are long for something different than your usual Hong Kong movie outing, THE MIDNIGHT AFTER is certainly one of those rarities worth checking out for.

* This review is written courtesy from GSC Movies press screening *

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