2 Young (2005)
Directed by: Derek Yee
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You can always rely on Derek Yee for several reasons, main one being the ability to make untested talent perform unexpectedly well. In 1994's C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri, Yee gave us breakthrough acts by Anita Yuen and Lau Ching Wan. In Full Throttle, it was Chin Ka-Lok who was on the receiving end of acclaim. Shu Qi swept with her 2 Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance in Viva Erotica and now with 2005's surprise hit 2 Young, Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Fong quickly escapes the taunts generated by his pale performance in The Twins Effect II by working with the consistent and surprisingly now very active Derek Yee.
16 year old Nam (Fiona Sit), hailing from a rich family that is ruled with an iron fist by her lawyer father (Anthony Wong while the mother is played by Candace Yu of Lust For Love Of A Chinese Courtesan fame), and 18 year old Fu (Jaycee Fong), who lives in a cramped apartment with hard working parents (Eric Tsang & Teresa Mo), meet, fall in love and when all seems very carefree and great, Nam discovers she's pregnant. Facing the inevitable of being separated by the parental units, the two take refuge in an abandoned village hoping to start a life on their own. Life has issues that need to be tackled though...
Fact: if Derek Yee decided to make a teenage love-drama like everyone else, then that would've meant one of the greatest directing talents in Hong Kong cinema would've been lost. Fact number 2: 2 Young IS a teenage love-drama but not done quickly or one generating false feelings either. Returning to something greatly lighter than last year's acclaimed and award winning One Nite In Mongkok, Yee turns to the street realism of Lost In Time where characters experience the true struggles of life in the face of hardships. This time it's not involving the death of a loved one but the coming birth of one at the hands of two teenagers in love and way too young. Fact number 3: Yee is on fire and gives us plentiful of excellent genre content with 2 Young (with some moments being slight exceptions).
Himself and co-writer Chun Tin Nam actually aren't out to shock anyone with their content and overall sentiments and even the least attentive viewer will be able to spot most developments coming. Yet it's about sincerity and confidence to tell a story well and to affect an audience, something Yee absolutely does with his natural direction. The rebellious teens. vs. the parents-struggles that goes on, as well as the collision of the social classes, is a definite highlight due to Yee and Chun making sure to portray everyone in a way that no one really comes off as truly bad, only flawed. The parents have only built up well-meaning intentions that they need to realize are unrealistic and inhumane pressures to put on a child. Fu and Nam obviously are making a whole host of poor decisions though as the baby is conceived under the influence but with such strict parental units, you do realize why they want to attempt a life of their own, something that still comes back to haunt them. Meanwhile the parents has to come to (and of course does) to a point where their intentions is to provide the best for their children, not for them personally in terms of status. All very expected storytelling...
...that could've failed if it wasn't for Derek Yee helming this one. He infuses 2 Young with the needed realism, far removed from any stylish direction or cinematography in addition to employing a simple, piano score that the best of the Hong Kong weepies are so much enhanced by. Being the great actor director that he is, he also has no problems getting the best out of his young cast. Jaycee Fong first of all should be able to erase all memories from his slammed debut and it's very brave and gratifying of Yee to want to take up the task of making Fong an assured presence. He may not be there yet but it again goes to prove that with the right dedication from behind the camera, you can go places even if you're still new in the business. At this point I doubt we'll be able to see Fong achieve any significant depth as an actor because the role of Fu really does require him to play a version close to himself. But I bet Jackie would be proud and this moment they can savour for a while. If the Hong Kong Film Awards were clever, they would present a new category next year. Namely the Best Performance after your crappy debut-award. I would vote for Fong. Newcomer Fiona Sit is really also saddled with the same task as Fong, to be who she is but one her age going through the difficulties of maintaining a family bliss. Yee is as ever thoroughly dedicated to her arc and finds ample opportunities to showcase what is a very charming and delightful presence in Sit.
Populating 2 Young with veterans Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang also lends the requisite actual acting credibility and they bring the valuable support the film needs, easily. I wouldn't be surprised, even though there's little competition these days, if we would see a Best Supporting actor nomination for the assured Anthony Wong during the 2006 Hong Kong Film Awards. Hui Siu-Hung is also sweet in the role of the driver for Nam's familly while Lam Suet, Chin Kar-Lok, Henry Fong, Jamie Luk and David Chiang appear in cameos.
Where Lost In Time both succeeded and slightly failed though was during some of its more extreme melodramatic moments and the same, slight niggle in Derek Yee's framework here does disrupt 2 Young during a few crucial minutes. While mostly very affecting, Yee instead takes the soap opera route for some of his bigger character outbursts and it diminishes some of the drama. And several ending codas to characters probably are way too staged for the movie to reach its bookend but I assure you, Yee has already won the whole battle way before any of these scenes. It's a bit too early to proclaim 2 Young as the best Hong Kong movie of 2005, despite a very limited field of competition, but it possesses enough well-manufactured realism and sentiments to be hailed as that. Again, Jackie should be proud.
Panorama presents the film in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Light print damage turn up at a few spots and some softness can be detected. Otherwise sharpness, colours and detail register fairly high.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track works mostly with the fronts and immerses to a fine effect with score and clear dialogue. There is a brief moment at the 82.49 mark where the dialogue jumps over to the right speaker. This glitch is not on the also available Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin 2.0 dub.
The English subtitles feature some minor errors but looks like an excellent translation overall. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included.
The extras are all housed on disc 2 (if you don't count the 4 lobby cards included in the case of disc 1) and while Panorama has done well with English subtitled extras on titles such as Throw Down and A-1, they take several steps back here as none of the added programs has English translation.
First out of the gate is the Making of 2 Young, clocking in at a fairly substantial 23 minutes and 16 seconds. Burned in Chinese subtitles only accompany this program so therefore, despite interviews with Derek Yee, Henry Fong and the actors, the content can't be judged if you do need English subtitles. The behind the scenes footage occasionally is worthwhile, including the moments after a melodramatic scene and Jackie Chan turns up on set as well.
5 Deleted Scenes are also included, totaling approximately 10-11 minutes. Both new and extended scenes are on offer and while their purpose can be detected, none seem particularly useful as such. Despite no explanation being given, these scenes were most likely ejected due to pace. They can be accessed individually but will keep on playing after one is done rather than take you back to the menu (unless you select the last entry of course). The teaser trailer follows and then the only English language extra on the disc, namely the Director Biography and Filmography. Chinese text opens but a few clicks forward is the fairly informative bio on Derek Yee.
The Promotional Footage section contains 4 selections acting as teaser trailers but only consisting of production footage. Each one lasts between 40-50 seconds and just like the deleted scenes will play back to back. Outtakes (or NG footage) has 8 different options rather than being one reel (but it becomes that since it again plays all the way through). Consisting of flubbed lines and some repeated takes, due to the overall length (approximately 6-7 minutes), all this becomes rather tedious to watch. An animated Photo Gallery (54 seconds, 12 images) finishes the 2nd disc.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson