Nerd Bites

Hong Kong: City on Fire Review

Hong Kong has to be one of the most fascinating cities on planet Earth. Starting out as an English Colony way back in 1841, to becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers it has had a hugely influential and colourful history, that is far too complicated for the likes of me to dive into. But what is important now is that in 1997 Hong Kong left the Uk’s sphere of influence and officially joined with China in a policy known as “one country, two systems”.

Under this system, Hong Kong should continue to have its own governmental system, legal, economic and financial affairs, including trade relations with foreign countries, all of which are independent from those of the Mainland. However, as a result of China’s new policies towards Hong Kong, many have considered Hong Kong to have reverted to a de facto “one country, one system” status. Hong Kong: City on Fire tells the story of those willing to stand and fight for the rights that the Chinese Communist Party are choosing to deny the citizens of Hong Kong.

In the words of the films producers:

“This urgent film beds in with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations, offering a frontline portrait of four young protesters through a year of struggle. We see their hopes for a freer life and feel their fears as the authorities crack down. Pulse-racing scenes bring the viewer to street level, where peaceful protest is met with fury and tear gas. Clear-eyed about the complications and contradictions that come with a movement that changed Hong Kong forever, it is a brave document of troubled times.”

If you are unfamiliar with what happened in Hong Kong then I will briefly fill you in. Basically China decided to overreach and introduce a new law that will cover all of its special administrative regions. The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, basically the bill would give China sweeping powers to arrest voices of political dissent in Hong Kong. This led to wide spread protests and would also see massive crackdowns by the police on the youth and pro-democracy organisations such as one of Hong Kong’s Biggest Newspapers, Apple Daily.

If you know me at all you will know that I am fairly left wing and I am saying this so you do not think this is some anti-socialist hatchet job. I stand in support of these protestors and believe in their fight. And this is one of many actions that make me dislike the CCP.

So now you know where I stand on this let’s move forward.

Firstly this is a truly compelling story, there were moments where I was genuinely crying while watching this, specifically seeing friends being reunited after one of the protests and also hearing about one of the films protagonists talk about how his stepdad attacked him over his political views. This is a film filled with both loud bombastic bravery but also quiet bravery, from all walks of life. Though the film focuses heavily on students, it also shows us parents, taxi drivers and even the elderly as they take a stand for something they truly believe in.

And as beautiful as all that was, the film repeatedly had me on the edge of my seat, especially in scenes where the police began to crack down on the protestors. When I say that these moments were heart pounding, I mean it, there is no other way to define this.

This is a truly powerful film and sadly many in China will never see it and if they do they will probably be disgusted by it. And no matter what, this film makes me thankful that I live in a country where I can type an article like this and not be persecuted for it. If you want to see this masterpiece then you are in luck because Odeon cinemas across the UK will be screening it on the 22/11/22.

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