Length: 88 minutes
Director: Kwan Wing Chung
Cast: Ron Ng, Annie Liu, Liu Kai-chi, Arrommy Leung
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
In theatres 26 August (Singapore)
3 out of 5 stars
Ladies Market is set in Hong Kong’s tourist hotspot of the same name, a street market known for selling clothing, accessories, and souvenirs. The film features Arrommy Leung as Tung, a young illegal immigrant who lives with Fai (Liu Kai-chi), who sells souvenir T-shirts at the market.
In order to avoid suspicion, Tung puts on his school uniform and pretends to go to school like the other children. But instead of heading to the school, he will explore Fai’s warehouse for “treasures”. One day, he finds a little girl Xinxin in the warehouse, and rescues her from her kidnappers.
At the same time, truck driver Peiyi (Annie Liu) and undercover cop Zihao (Ron Ng) form an unlikely alliance as they try to escape from the triad, and come across Tung and Xinxin. As their lives intertwine, Tung gets a semblance of having a family, something he has been yearning for.
Ladies Market is one of the last few films of Liu Kai-chi, who died due to stomach cancer in March this year. His character Fai is a gambling addict who raises Tung and treats him like his son. Despite being outwardly harsh towards Tung, Fai actually loves Tung in his own subtle ways. Through the character Fai, which is well portrayed by Liu, we get to see the relatively less mentioned, heartwarming father’s love (as compared to a mother’s love). It was so heartbreaking to see Fai worry about Tung.
However, it would have been more impactful if more details were given to the background story of Fai and Tung. It was only briefly touched upon that Tung was left in the hands of Fai, but there was no explanation of how or why that happened. This makes it difficult to understand why Fai is so invested in Tung, who is supposedly a stranger, and fails to make the audience appreciate some of the emotional scenes. Even the ending tribute to the late Liu Kai-chi is more saddening.
Furthermore, the Mandarin dubbing, especially for Tung and Xinxin, sounds awkward and did not help with the character portrayals. The feelings of the characters may be better expressed in the original Cantonese audio.
Although Ron Ng takes on a leading role in Ladies Market, there is not much development to his character Zihao, which gives Ng very little with which to showcase his acting. Fans of the popular actor, known for his role as pilot Issac Tong in the Triumph In The Skies series, may be disappointed to see Ng portray such a flat character with minimal exciting scenes.
Ladies Market may not be the best Hong Kong production, but it's still worth watching for the performance (one of the last few) of the late veteran actor Liu Kai-chi.
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