Our Time Will Come (Review)

Our Time Will Come

aka 明月幾時有
Our Time Will Come
2017
Written by Ho Kei-Ping
Directed by Ann Hui On-Wah

Our Time Will Come
Next up on the SFFilm Hong Kong series was Our Time Will Come, Ann Hui’s latest film about the resistance movement to Japanese occupation, specifically about real life characters in the Hong Kong area. Though events are fictionalized, they were real people. This era of history is fascinating and I’m always glad when more films come along that show more of the history of resisting Japanese occupation. Add in the fact that Ann Hui directed and this was a must-see for me!

Our Time Will Come begins with the rescue of hundreds of public intellectuals – scholars, actors, directors, poets – by the resistance movement. It weaves that into the recruitment of Fong Lan (Zhou Xun) into the movement by Blackie Lau (Eddie Peng Yu-Yen), a fighter notorious enough to have a large price on his head and brazen enough to attack a room full of people bragging that they will hunt him down.

Fong Lan lives with her mother, Fong Tze (Deannie Yip Tak-Han), who rents out rooms at a cheaper price, including two occupants who were a poet and his wife. They were part of the group being evacuated, and due to the Japanese closing in Blackie Lau asks Fong Lan to help them get to the boat. Fong Lan was a former teacher before the school was closed and the building turned into an administration office for the Japanese, her former boyfriend Kam-Wing (Wallace Huo Chien-Hua) still works there. They break up early in the film when he tries to impulsively propose but also claims to be leaving. Though he doesn’t leave, he does smuggle out information to the resistance army (while dealing with a Japanese intendant who threatens violence, such as to shoot him if he doesn’t come up with poems on the spot that use vocal tricks.)
Our Time Will Come

The parts are loosely connected by interviews with a surviving Resistance member named Ben (Here he is played by Tony Leung Ka-Fai, though there was a real Ben he died after being interviewed but before filming.) The connection only sort of works, the rescue of the intellectuals seems like its own mini movie prologue with only a few characters that stick around in the story beyond that point. I thought that meant Out Time Will Come would be more episodic, but instead it shifts to follow Fong Lan’s arc to leader of the City Brigade. It is through this that the best parts of the movie happen.

Fong Lan’s mother is a very Hong Kong mother, she doesn’t want her daughter to die but claims it is because she doesn’t want to burden others. She refuses to go live with her husband and his first wife, preferring almost starving in occupation to losing face and moving back in. But she loves her daughter and helps her when she can, which puts her in harms way as well.

Blackie Lau drifts in and out of the film, rarely interacting with anyone except in the climaxes of both parts and to recruit Fong Lan. His action scenes are fun but they seem more a diversion from the rest of the tales, and he and Kam-Wing don’t directly interact at all, despite being on opposite ends of information smuggling rings. While all the pieces are solid, I don’t think they fit together into a final product as well as they should. The insertions of the Ben interviews do help, but not as much as they seem to (plus young Ben doesn’t appear until like halfway through the story!) Had the real Ben still been around to film the interviews beyond what they did for research, it might have turned out different. There were some things I didn’t know but should have realized, such as Japanese using Indian troops as cops to shake down the local populace. In the film they work better than the Hong Kong locals, who either refuse to take action out of being scared or toss away propaganda sheets with a warning (with what seemed to me like sympathy but inability to do much more.)

Producer Roger Lee Yan-Lam was there for a Q&A and also a slideshow of the actual people the characters are based on. Though he did open with declaring that he did not break up star Zhou Xun’s marriage, and the guy in the photos with her was her manager who just looks amazingly like him. I’ll let everyone make up their own mind on that, but it was a hilarious start off to a Q&A. Ann Hui insisted on casting Deannie Yip, who had been sort of blacklisted because of her support of the Hong Kong free speech movement. That’s the kind of weird irony that happens in real life sometimes. Our Time Will Come was shot on locations without building sets, some areas of old Hong Kong and the countryside still look like they are from back in time. Eddie Peng was the second choice for Blackie Lau behind Jacky Wu-Jing, who instead choose to direct and star in Wolf Warrior 2, currently the biggest movie in Chinese history. Lee says the movie would have been completely different had he accepted the role.
Our Time Will Come

Rated 6/10


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Our Time Will Come

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

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