I watched the movie "Floating City" 浮城 starring Aaron Kwok 郭富城 on the plane ride back to Hong Kong. It is directed by Yim Ho 嚴浩. (Please forgive the long absence :) I will post about my travels in a future post(s).)
The story follows a narrative setup similar to "Forrest Gump." The most interesting character in "Forrest Gump" is of course the U.S.A. itself, and Forrest acts as a plot device to unveil "character" developments in America's modern history, in resolving segregation and racism, overcoming the Vietnam War, etc. Floating City is the story of Hong Kong. It tracks the life and times of Bo Wah Chuen, an orphaned boat person who toils, struggles, and eventually rises to be a tycoon.
Bo is referred to as 番仔, meaning "foreign kid." "番" is the character that precedes Potato 番薯 and Tomato 番茄, making new nouns out of "Foreign Tuber" and Foreign Eggplant," to describe the curious produce that the Portuguese had originally introduced to China via Macau a few centuries ago. Bo, it turns out, is half-Chinese. A mild spoiler: Bo discovers late in the movie his mother (played by Josie Ho) was raped by a British Seaman (pun not intended). That biological mother tearfully gives him up for adoption. A family of fisherman, who ply the waters of the South China Sea, living and fishing on/off their vessel adopt Bo and do their best to give him whatever attention and care is possible, amidst some rather hardscrabble circumstances.
I am not attempting to write film criticism. In all, it is a largely watchable flick. Yim Ho is biting off an ambitious subject matter, namely how H.K. remembers and appraises its colonial history. The cinematography is probably the standout of the whole production; the script has a number of historical half-truths, including some timeline snafus, which is a shame. Nonetheless, what makes it interesting to this blog is how the film handles the mixed-race Sino-British lead character, Bo.
Bo takes his heapings of slurs from both Chinese and British characters alike. In one pointed exchange, Bo's fortunes are on the up and up, having risen progressively up the corporate ladder of a large British firm- yet one of his superiors reminds him of his mongrel, "Foreign Boy" "Fan Zhai" name during his early days at the company. The story carries him as a hero, though. He is a "parrotfish," a different fish to all the other "normal fish" Chinese school kids, yet he is able to make it. I must say I was surprised at how generously Bo's character is handled. He is industrious, and though Aaron Kwok plays him as if this character has some type of mild Aspergers, Bo, evolves and adapts to strike opportunity within a changing British-Chinese society.
Check it out if you can. Tell me what you think of the depiction of Bo, AKA 番仔!