Leung Po-Chi’s Hong Kong 1941 is an extraordinary film. It captures the tumultuous times of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong with an unflinching eye. It’s an epic story told with a sensitivity that is uncommon in war films these days.
The film is held together by the assured directing of Leung Po-Chi, a superb script that’s unsentimental, and powerful performances by its cast. Alex Man is explosive as the wayward Keung who’s loyalty to his friends and country gets the best of him. In an early role, Cecilia Yip shows her range as the headstrong Nam. But, the performance that anchors the film belongs to Chow Yun-Fat. He’s absolutely magnetic as the idealistic Fay and deservingly received a Best Actor nomination at the 4th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. With all of Chow’s comedic work and heroic bloodshed stuff in the 80s this film tends to get lost in his filmography. Watching it now for the first time, I was floored by how subtle and charismatic Chow is onscreen.
I would recommend those who haven’t seen Hong Kong 1941 to seek it out. It’s a moving film that deals with an important time in history and how it came to shape the lives of three friends.