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Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Blu-ray Region A

Liu Kai Chi (Actor) | Poon Chan Leung (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor) | Tony Wu (Actor)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Shortlisted as a Recommended Film of 2016 by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, the indie youth baseball drama Weeds on Fire is inspired by the little known real-life story of Hong Kong's first youth baseball team, the Shatin Martins. Set in 1984, writer-director Steve Chan's remarkable debut feature stars award-winning veteran Liu Kai Chi as Lo, an impassioned school principal who wants to reform wayward students through sports. Despite baseball being a relatively unknown sport not played by locals, he manages to secure funding for a youth team and fills it with kids from low-income families, including childhood friends Ah Lung (Sing Lam, High Noon) and Sai Wai (Hong Kong National Baseball Team member Tony Wu). Used to being the center of attention, the tough and brash Sai Wai naturally takes up the position of pitcher, but Lo recognizes that the quiet and team-oriented Lung is a better fit for the role. Baseball, girls and growing up change the dynamics of their friendship, creating an increasing rift as they train for competition and take different paths.
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Technical Information

Product Title: Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) 點五步 (2016) (Blu-ray) (香港版) 点五步 (2016) (Blu-ray) (香港版) 點五步 (2016) (Blu-ray) (香港版) Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)
Artist Name(s): Liu Kai Chi (Actor) | Poon Chan Leung (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor) | Tony Wu (Actor) | Tan Shan Yan (Actor) 廖啟智 (Actor) | 潘燦良 (Actor) | 林 耀聲 (Actor) | 胡 子彤 (Actor) | 談 善言 (Actor) 廖启智 (Actor) | 潘灿良 (Actor) | 林 耀声 (Actor) | 胡 子彤 (Actor) | 谈 善言 (Actor) 廖啓智(リウ・カイチー) (Actor) | 潘燦良(パン・ツァンリョン) (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor) | Tony Wu (Actor) | Tan Shan Yan (Actor) 요 계지 (Actor) | Poon Chan Leung (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor) | Tony Wu (Actor) | Tan Shan Yan (Actor)
Director: Steve Chan 陳志發 陈志发 Steve Chan Steve Chan
Producer: Chan Hing Ka | O Sing Pui 陳 慶嘉 | 柯星沛 陈庆嘉 | 柯星沛 陳慶嘉 | O Sing Pui Chan Hing Ka | O Sing Pui
Writer: Huang Zhi Yang | Steve Chan 黃 智揚 | 陳志發 黄 智扬 | 陈志发 Huang Zhi Yang | Steve Chan Huang Zhi Yang | Steve Chan
Blu-ray Region Code: A - Americas (North, Central and South except French Guiana), Korea, Japan, South East Asia (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) What is it?
Release Date: 2017-01-24
Language: Cantonese
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese
Country of Origin: Hong Kong
Picture Format: [HD] High Definition What is it?
Sound Information: Dolby Digital EX(TM) / THX Surround EX(TM)
Disc Format(s): Blu-ray
Screen Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080 progressive scan)
Duration: 95 (mins)
Publisher: Panorama (HK)
Package Weight: 100 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1057032688

Product Information

In 1984, 'Shatin Martins', Hong Kong's first youth baseball team, was formed. The 10 young players were living an uneasy and restless life as they were met with one defeat after another, and the fate of the Shatin Martins hung in the balance. However, the hardship only brought out theiur bravery to surmount themselves and overcome their struggles. Living in Hong Kong'[s golden era, these players ignited their glory with every game as they grew together with their city. Eventually, it all comes down to the final match facing their greatest rival yet....
Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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This film has won 2 award(s) and received 8 award nomination(s). All Award-Winning Asian Films

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)"

January 19, 2017

The debut feature of writer-director Chan Chi-Fat, Weeds on Fire chronicles the true story of Hong Kong's first youth baseball team, the Shatin Martins, who won a regional tournament at the end of their first year in existence. That true, inspirational story was massaged and even marginalized on its way to the big screen. Weeds on Fire features a fictionalized version of the team's journey as its framework, and uses its baseball storyline as a vessel for familiar themes like Hong Kong social problems, political issues and existential youth musings. It's 1984 and Lo Kwong-Fai (Liu Kai-Chi), a school principal in the Shatin district, pushes for the requisite funding for a little league baseball team – an unusual move because baseball was not (and still isn't) popular in Hong Kong. His students are from low-income families and far from the crème de la crème, but Lo passionately argues that joining a baseball team may help some of the kids get on the right track.

Despite the board not seeming to like Lo's plan, Superintendent Donald Tsang (the same one who later became Chief Executive, played here by stage actor Poon Chan-Leung) goes along and Lo soon puts together a motley crew of stereotypical teen boys. There's the class monitor, the big-talking blowhard, the China immigrant – the group is quickly and effectively sketched, but the story mainly deals with Lung (Lam Yiu-Sing) and Wai (Tony Wu). Friends since childhood, the pair are close but very different. Wai is the tough and charismatic alpha male while Lung is reticent and exists entirely in Wai's shadow. Much of Weeds on Fire's narrative has to do with Lung's growth, as the baseball team helps him to mature and embrace his own identity. However, crucial to Lung's change is accepting a larger role on the team from Principal Lo. Wai was previously the center of attention, but with Lung threatening to usurp that, a schism forms between the longtime friends.

Lung and Wai are the focus of the entire film, with the baseball scenes largely used as metaphor for their changing friendship. Broadly speaking, the film touches upon familiar themes of self-confidence, humility, identity and growth. These are tried-and-true subjects for a coming-of-age film, and the filmmakers meld everything together effectively. Chan Chi-Fat shows solid filmmaking chops, using parallel action, montage and voiceover to present his characters and situations in poignant and lyrical ways. The political themes are also successfully integrated. The film opens and closes in the present day at the 2013 Umbrella Revolution and not-so-subtly ties Lung's journey to Hong Kong's ongoing struggle for universal suffrage. The film's politics are not as striking or daring as anything done in Ten Years, but Weeds on Fire should be more appealing to general audiences. Chan Chi-Fat ties together the personal and political with a slew of common tropes – first love, delinquent youth, triad societies, teen pregnancy, infidelity, broken families – and finds effective emotion in many of them. It's actually amazing that it all works as well as it does.

Despite being relegated to supporting character status, Principal Lo remains an intriguing figure, and even shows some unexpected cunning. At the one point, Lo deceives Lung to help him escape Wai's shadow, and while he has good motives, one wonders if he isn’t behaving unethically for an educator. However, the film never takes the time to examine Lo's character, and settles on letting Liu Kai-Chi's fiery passion and integrity define him. Some of Liu's mannerisms are a bit too theatrical for a man in his position – e.g., at the first board meeting Lo acts like a strutting prima donna and still is able to secure funding for his baseball team – but the performance is a commanding one. Tony Wu shows surprising charisma as Wai, though he has to carry a lesser load than Lam Yiu-Sing, who works as an approachable blank slate for the audience to identify with. The character is basically an ugly duckling with few flaws, and arguably gains the most personality from his present-day voiceover, which is provided by Jan Lam.

It is a bit disconcerting that Principal Lo is shoved into the background of what should be his story and replaced by fictional characters acting out a lighter version of Made in Hong Kong. Shouldn't the story of Hong Kong's first baseball team be propped up by social and political themes and not the other way around? This is an issue without a right-or-wrong answer so let’s skip past it and proceed thusly: Looking at Weeds on Fire regardless of its accuracy, it's actually very easy to admire its style, lyricism and craft. Chan Chi-Fat takes a sports movie framework, applies it skillfully to an overstuffed examination of lower class life, and affectingly honors the hardscrabble spirit of the Hong Kong people. Weeds on Fire stylishly and successfully tells a uniquely Hong Kong story, and credit is due to its promising young director. Chan should absolutely expect a Best New Director nomination at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards. He'll probably lose to Wong Chun (Mad World), but if Chan can squeak out a win it wouldn’t be an upset.

by Kozo -

Editor's Pick of "Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)"

Picked By Sanwei
See all this editor's picks

February 27, 2017

Solid base hit
With eight Hong Kong Film Awards nominations including Best Film, Weeds on Fire is a tad over-lauded by local critics eager to celebrate a small Hong Kong drama about the Hong Kong experience. Nevertheless, Weeds on Fire is very much a notable effort in the thinning pool of purely Hong Kong films, especially considering it's from a first-time director. Steve Chan, one of the winners of CreateHK's First Film Feature Initiative in 2013, makes good use of the funding for an assured feature debut that approaches the classic coming-of-age sports drama with palpable energy from a grassroots angle.

Weeds on Fire tells the obscure story of Hong Kong's first local youth baseball team and the universal story of high school boys coming of age amid sports, fights, crushes and brushes with crime. Young relative unknowns Tony Wu and Sing Lam play alpha troublemaker Sai Wai and quiet sidekick Lung, teenage buddies who grew up in the same public housing estate and get cajoled by the principal into joining the school's baseball team. Liu Kai Chi overacts to his heart's content as the inspirational do-gooder principal who by sheer force of will and rhetoric manages to attain funding for a baseball team, conscript low-income at-risk students for the roster, and whip them into shape with speeches and discipline.

Baseball wasn't a well-known sport in Hong Kong back in 1984 when the story is set. It still isn't today, and this film is unlikely to generate interest for the game. Though Tony Wu is a member of the Hong Kong Baseball Team, the baseball aspect of Weeds on Fire does not go beyond the most basic sports film setup. Baseball game scenes are presented with quick cuts and close shots that create a sense of movement, but also deny the audience of ever seeing proper baseball. This is perhaps to be expected. Given Hong Kong audiences' relative unfamiliarity with baseball, it would be difficult to film the game with the detail of, say, Taiwan or Japanese films on baseball.

Though not a particularly good baseball film, Weeds on Fire, as a Hong Kong coming-of-age drama, succeeds in capturing its time, place and age bracket. The reluctant underdog ballplayers fight and grow as they deal with tough training and humiliating losses. For Lung, playing baseball builds confidence, character and teamwork, and encourages him to step out of his domineering friend's shadow. It also opens a widening rift with the hardheaded Sai Wai who provides the cautionary example of a rash delinquent drifting deeper into the gangster life.

The stylistic editing and photography that hinder the baseball scenes help the rest of the film, adding a shot of dynamic energy that fits with the young characters and their hard-knocks environment. Weeds on Fire may not hit it out of the park, but it's at least a solid base hit for everyone involved.

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