Port of Call (Hong Kong, 2015) [NYAFF 2015]


Port of Call will be the Opening Night Film at the 14th New York Asian Film Festival on Friday June 26th. This screening will be preceded by the presentation of the Star Asia Award to actor Aaron Kwok (this screening has sold out but there will be a standby line should any tickets go unclaimed). The film will also be shown on Saturday June 27th when Kwok will participate in an introduction and Q&A session.

Sixteen-year-old Jiamei (Jessie Li, in her film debut) has moved to Hong Kong with her mother and sister, while her father has remained at home in Hunan. She dreams of becoming a model, but ends up as a brutally murdered teenage prostitute. Hong Kong Police Officer Chong (Kwok) is the detective who heads up the investigation into the crime. With glasses and grey hair, Chong is a grizzled veteran who has been all but done in by the violence he has seen. A loving father to his preteen daughter, one senses that what his job has done to him over the years probably has much to do with is separation or divorce.

The film is divided into four sections, and although the identity of the murderer is revealed fairly early on, much mystery remains. There are several jumps back and forth in time, but each shift is identified by year. Director Philip Yung has done a deft job of keeping the narrative clear and moving along. The cinematography is fabulous, which is what one would expect from veteran Christopher Doyle, who is probably still best known for his work on several landmark films by Wong Kar-wai.

A gripping crime mystery, Port of Call is the perfect film for opening night at this year’s NYAFF. There’s teenage sex and prostitution and some harrowing violence, both described and depicted. There’s also some explicit nudity. The film must carry a Category III (adults only) rating in Hong Kong. Given it’s subject matter and nude scenes, I can’t imagine it being released in any form in Mainland China, except, of course, as a bootleg.

The two screenings of Port of Call are part of Hong Kong Panorama, one of the Special Focus sections of this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, and are presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.