If there was one film this past year that has blatantly and unabashedly curtailed to a specific demographic that relishes in superficiality and simplemindedness when it comes to entertainment, then director Wilson Chin’s Lan Kwai Fong fits the bill perfectly. Set within the popular nightclub district of “Lan Kwai Fong” in central Hong Kong, Lan Kwai Fong follows a group of young adults as they spend their nights partying at Club Billion, a place built upon sex, dancing, and a vast consumption of alcoholic beverages. While a variety of films have been built around the socialite nature of nightlife in the past, Lan Kwai Fong takes it to almost absurd levels—and certainly not for the betterment of the viewer, unless you enjoy a mindless and constant barrage of individuals pushing back obscene amounts of alcohol and having sex with anyone they can get their hands on—you know, the typical glamorized nature of the so-called “nightlife” where having a job seemingly doesn’t exist and every night is a party.
While the film follows a variety of characters, it primarily showcases the exploits of a young man by the name of Stephen (Zhi-Ming Chen) and focuses on his transformative journey from socialite playboy to esteemed gentlemen worthy of having a steady girlfriend. Sadly, this summarization of Stephen is about as much depth as one can get from an individual who’s supposedly the main character of the film—which certainly leads to the minor characters faring much, much worse in terms of development. One can understand that this approach could derive from the very premise of the film—to show the wild and extravagant atmosphere of the Lan Kwai Fong district of Hong Kong—but Chin directs it almost akin to how one would direct a three-minute music video, just stretching out to a strenuous hour and a half of debauchery. With its the abundance of editing cuts amidst the backdrop of obnoxious musical choices or its utter lack of character development, one can’t tell at times if the film is either a shameless advertisement for the district of Lan Kwai Fong or an extended music video.
Perhaps this is was the directorial approach that Chin was going for all along—to showcase how meaningless this type of lifestyle truly is with its pointless one-night stands and alcoholic binges—but since there really is no redemptive quality found in the story, one would have a difficult time arguing against the notion that he simply wanted to exploit this excess to the fullest. With the relationship between Stephen and his on-and-off girlfriend Jennifer (Shiga Lin) somewhat grounding the film, Chin and writer Mark Wu sloppily attempt to reinforce Stephen and Jennifer’s struggling steadiness as a couple literally in the last five minutes of the film in a matter that is certainly laughable—and not in a good way. As a viewer, making it this far was a struggle in itself, with the ending effectively sealing the deal on the film being viewed as absolute absurd.
Is Lan Kwai Fong a film that should appease those viewers who want to indulge themselves in pointless displays of sex and partying? I’m certain there is viewership out there that would appreciate such an approach and would want nothing more in a film, but for the rest of us, Lan Kwai Fong is a complete mess without any redeeming qualities whatsoever. With character development that is close to non-existent and a plot that chaotically jumps all over the place, the film is very similar to envisioning the world through the eyes of someone who suffers from an extreme case of attention deficit disorder—while overdosing on psychedelic drugs. Now while most sufferers would want to find some remedy for their ailment, Chin seemingly relishes in the fact that his film suffers from such a problem, therein making Lan Kwai Fong a rather unnecessary viewing experience even for the most hardcore film-viewing socialites out there.