Fantasia - Moving on Amid Nostalgia

Seeing Fantasia, I was surprised to find that the audience are exclusive to those who grew up in the 70s. In fact, it was more like a family event. Lau Ching-wan admittedly has the look of Michael Hui in Games Gamblers Play, and there are also excerpts from Security Unlimited. With the main plot lifted from The Private Eyes, it is a post-modern mishmash of the three Hui Brothers films. What is amusing is that the 70s' gags still work, and bring the house down. It is obvious that the "kiddies" without the collective memory of the 70s and 80s also find the film funny. It says something about Wai Ka-fai's direction.

The films starts with the three brothers, then the Harmy Bobo line, interlaced with Villain Kin's alley robbery, the Chopsticks Sisters and sexy bombshell Tina Ti strutting her stuff again. Films and characters of the 70s are referenced, like the bathroom peeping scene in Seven Indecent, and the coming back of Lap Sap Chung, now in CG, as Jurassic Park dinosaur. The Hogwarts magic adds a more contemporary touch. The story is light, but the director is ambitious in his targeting of audiences ranging from those with memories of the 60s to the new generation. It has the right mix of appropriation and recreation. It is a success as audience of different age groups can possess different readings for the same footage.

It is a smart move to put the film in the new year time slot, bidding goodbye to the old and ushering the new with laughter. It fully realizes the influence of the media texts of the 70s and 80s on our collective memory and even on our identities, and thus putting familiar characters in contemporary situations, to good effect. A nostalgic journey for the older generation, and it also allows the new generation know that there was, once, a golden age of local cinema.

By Chan Ka Ming

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