A Cannes Film Festival selection and the opening film of the Summer IFF, director Liu Fendou?s Ocean Flame arrives with plenty of hype and momentum. But while artsy film buffs may find the film intriguing, its hard to see how this will appeal to a mainstream audiences.
Ocean Flame, which is based on a novel, just doesn’t have any likeable characters. It?s a tale of a love-and-hate relationship between a waitress named Lichuan (newcomer Monica Mok) and a lowlife hoodlum by the name of Wong Yoo.
Throughout the film, Lichuan is abused both physically and verbally by Wong but keeps coming back for more. Whatever sympathy points she gets from the audience in the first 30 minutes of the film are quickly lost because it?s mind boggling how dumb her character is to keep returning to Wong’s side.
Its also puzzling as to what director Liu Fendou was aiming for With Wong Yoo?s character – a hoodlum who makes his living off blackmailing customers via prostitutes. There isn?t a redeeming quality about his character – which is tough to watch for he?s onscreen for nearly the entire film.
As for Simon Yam, he gets star billing here but his total screen time is under three minutes. The film is essentially one scene after another of a guy torturing a girl, who then cries and returns for more.
When Monica Mok claimed she wasn’t happy while on the film set because of the depressing nature of her character, she wasn?t kidding. Ocean Flame is a bleak film with absolutely nothing for audiences to root for.