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This Will Leave You With a Lingering Weight

Blue Island

NR -     

Genre: Documentary
Year Released: 2022
Runtime: 1h 37m
Director(s): Chan Tze Woon
Language: Chinese w/English subtitles
Where To Watch: Available to screen here Ovid TV

RAVING REVIEW: The latest work from filmmaker Chan Tze Woon tackles the elusive concept of time and those who find themselves trapped within its grasp. With a precise touch, the film explores the volatile relationship between the city of Hong Kong and mainland China, examining the events of the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations and the aftermath.

Blending a dynamic mix of real-life footage, dramatic reenactments, and in-depth interviews, BLUE ISLAND takes a deep dive into the experiences of a few young rebels at the forefront of the movement. By following these student activists, the film provides a unique window into the parallel lives of these real-life characters and the unwavering spirit of resistance that has been a constant throughout Hong Kong's history.

The film traces this ever-changing city's past, present, and future, exploring the underlying conflict and unrest that seems ever-present. BLUE ISLAND captures youthful defiance in a city that has consistently refused to be silenced.

Earning critical acclaim, including "Best Documentary" at CAAM FEST 2022 and "Best International Feature Documentary" at Hot Docs 2022, BLUE ISLAND is a film that demands attention from its viewers. However, for those already familiar with the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the film may have benefited from a deeper dive into these moments, incorporating additional background information or a more thoughtful comparison between the perspectives of younger and older protesters.

Using a combination of on-screen text and interviews, the director highlights the ties that bind Hong Kong's protesters through the years. The film draws comparisons between the 1989 nationwide crackdowns and the 2020 passage of the National Security Law and between the flight of Mainlanders to Hong Kong 50 years ago and the subsequent departure of 90,000 citizens.

The film reaches a powerful conclusion with a robust exchange between a young protester and an experienced activist, exploring their shared passion, fear, and commitment to the cause. Through these conversations, BLUE ISLAND speaks to the soul of the Hong Kong resistance movement.

While the passion for its subject matter is evident throughout BLUE ISLAND, the film has flaws. Sometimes the movie feels slightly disjointed and needs a more straightforward narrative path. Despite these shortcomings, the film's innovative structure, intricate storytelling, and powerful reenactments elevate it to a level of filmmaking and a depth rarely seen in the genre.

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[photo courtesy of ICARUS FILMS]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.