Living out a fantasy

Living out a fantasy
Director Pang Ho Cheung in his giant chameleon monster at the filming of his movie, Aberdeen.

Singer-actress Miriam Yeung takes a ride in a car that is made of paper like it is an offering burnt to the spirits. She then steps into a paper apartment also made to be an offering to the gods.

In other scenes, a giant chameleon monster is seen stomping through a paper model of Hong Kong and a massive whale is beached on a shore, drawing a lot of curious onlookers.

Hong Kong director Pang Ho Cheung's latest work, Aberdeen, seems to be loaded with heavy symbolism, if you are so inclined to look for them - and perhaps even when you are not.

That is because there is a camp of moviegoers who see him as the beacon of authentic Hong Kong cinema, as he continues to make films about the Hong Kong experience in an age when the city's film industry players are increasingly heading north to China to make big- budget co-productions.

Aberdeen is, once again for a Pang film, set in Hong Kong and tells the story of an extended Hong Kong family whose members are plagued by secrets of their own. It stars top Hong Kong names, including Yeung, Eric Tsang, Louis Koo and Gigi Leung, and opens in cinemas tomorrow.

Its title refers to a neighbourhood to the south of Hong Kong Island that the English first came ashore in 1841, and is where director Pang says is arguably "where the story of Hong Kong begins". The Chinese name for Aberdeen, "heung gong zai", is also a pun for "Hong Kong kid" and "Little Hong Kong".

Despite much evidence to the contrary, Pang refutes the notion that he could be the shining light of his hometown's movie industry. "It's not like that. I just make movies that I would want to watch, about stories that I want to tell. I happen to feel for Hong Kong because I was born and raised here, and it just so happens that my mother tongue is Cantonese.

"But I do not set out to make movies only about Hong Kong. I'm not against making movies about other cultures too," he says evenly.

In fact, his stance could be seen as quintessentially Hong Kong - ever so practical. Big- mission statements and symbolism are oh-so-European.

The giant chameleon and beached whale scenes, for instance, were included "just because I felt like it", Pang says.

The 40-year- old adds with a chuckle: "I've always been a fan of Godzilla and I thought it'd be fun to have something like that in my work. And what better way to live out my fantasy than to play the monster myself, and destroy the city like that?"

The beached whale was something he had already wanted to include in his previous movie Love In A Puff (2010).

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