Film Reviews: From the Queen to the Chief Executive (2001) by Herman Yau

Eclectic and prolific Hong Kong director Herman Yau has all the time been venturing into very completely different genres, usually not caring about viability or field workplace, however simply following what he wished to do. That is positively the case in “From the Queen to the Chief Govt”, a movie devoted to the battle for the human rights of the quite uncared for class of legal offenders. Yau got here throughout the draft of a e-book by Elsa Chan, based mostly on the true story of 23 males, sentenced as juveniles to be “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure” (a clause in British legislation permitting the federal government to go away younger offenders to indefinite detention) and nonetheless, on the daybreak of handover, ready for a correct sentence, hanging in a jurisdictional purgatory about to show very quickly into hell. Yau thought it was a narrative that wanted to be advised and that had the potentials to change into a movie and due to this fact began a course of that lasted for two years, fairly a very long time for the director’s typical turnover, because of the predictable aversion of traders to finance a political movie.

“From the Queen to the Chief Govt” is screening at  Black Movie International Festival of Independent Movies

The movie opens in 1997, with a quite poignant tv footage of the Chief Govt of the Hong Kong Particular Administrative Area being sworn into workplace, adopted by Councillor Leung Chung Kan (Stephen Tang) making an enchantment to the very Chief Govt with underwhelming outcomes. The story then goes again to 1985, when the three major characters of the film are nonetheless unaware of one another. One is Leung, the long run Councillor, already concerned in social work, serving to manufacturing facility staff of their fights for higher working circumstances. One other is {the teenager} Cheung Yau Ming (performed later as an grownup by David Lee) who will get concerned with 4 older children and participates within the grotesque gang rape and homicide of a British couple in a park, a front-page incident that echoed for a few years later. The third is the woman Yue Ling (performed as grownup by Mainland singer Ai-jing). Abused by a sleazy uncle and offended at her mum for taking her to Hong Kong from her Mainland hometown, she finally results in bother.

12 years later the paths of those folks have crossed; Ming and others like him are nonetheless in jail, trapped in a authorized limbo, with no hope of parole and even much less of a future. Within the meantime, Yue Ling will get to know Ming by his prose and begins a candy friendship with him. She finally incites and joins City Councillor Leung in his exhausting battle to have the sentences outlined, organising demonstrations and coordinating the households of the prisoners. Nevertheless it’s a race towards time because the approaching handover and the resultant Mainland takeover of the authorized instances would solely worsen the scenario and, on prime of that, Mr. Leung’s time period of workplace will finish with the termination of the Colonial rule.

The movie is tangibly one among Tau’s pet challenge; his decided need to offer some justice and visibility to the victims of a authorized loophole that it’s pretty unjust. The formulation “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure”, as disturbingly comedian because it sounds, was meant to be a lighter, lenient punishment, however its uncertainty made it as an alternative extra just like a life sentence. Younger males had no hope for a future, no life after jail to stay up for, and no path to channel their research and job coaching throughout their rehabilitating path in jail. This intricate matter raises questions in regards to the position of imprisonment, the true which means of a life sentence and even challenges the capital punishment. Though even the Courtroom of Worldwide Human Rights has established that giving a prisoner an indefinite sentence violates their fundamental human rights, alternatively, compassion for former criminals is just not one thing simple to ask to most people. Because the film exhibits, some Hongkongers have been reluctant to empathise with individuals who as soon as dedicated homicide, and even had violent reactions towards the demonstrations organised by Mr. Leung.

For its intrinsic subject material, the movie is sort of a documentary, and it contains some attention-grabbing clips of actual footage. However to make it extra palatable and fewer dry, some components of melodrama have been cunningly injected into the story. The character of Yue Ling particularly, is the humanistic connective tissue that retains the opposite characters collectively. As a trick, it really works more often than not, though her sweetness and over-cute eyes can change into grating at instances. Having a shady previous herself, she can be a script’s system for introducing the idea that juvenile criminals usually come from a childhood of abuses and neglects. Furthermore, an emphasis on the despair of the households of these imprisoned males is one other approach Yau makes use of to worm its approach by the viewers’s empathy.

The director has taken nice care in casting the three character the movie focuses on, selecting actors with a way of righteousness and comparable traits to the fictional characters. Ai-jing, an previous good friend of the director, was favored for her Mainland origins and her important emotions towards Hong Kong. Yau additionally went to nice lengths to go to the true Ming and discuss to him in individual on the Shek Pik Jail. The inmate’s type manners and timid spirit are very effectively represented within the fictional character and completely conveyed by David Lee. Nevertheless, the driving pressure of the movie is undoubtedly Mr.Leung. Stephen Tang is terrific within the position of the troubled and tireless Councillor, utilizing his a few years of stage performing expertise to ship a mix of unimaginable energy and determination but additionally a human softness that the script highlights within the episodes of his troubled private life.

All in all, “From the Queen to the Chief Govt” is a true-crime film with a coronary heart and a soul. In a preferred and comprehensible cinematic language, Herman Yau advocates for unvoiced, forgotten males, disadvantaged of civil rights, and factors the finger on the problematic duality of Hong Kong’s authorized system on the verge of the handover to China. In doing so, he additionally manages to attract a spotless image of the anxiousness and uncertainty of Hong Kong’s submit colonial future.

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