Staff review: Overheard 3

Have you checked out our CRIME: Hong Kong Style season? Digital Reporter Ian Reeves reviews Overheard 3

When I think of Hong Kong, I think of the amazing skyline, the fantastic architecture and of the dazzling firework displays to celebrate Chinese New Year. I really ought to visit it someday. Overheard 3 begins with fireworks but only the promise of an amazing skyline.

The film follows the fortunes of a rural community with a particular emphasis on one family. Uncle To is the elder statesman of this family and had previously introduced a law which allowed men of local heritage a government grant to build a small home. We are informed early on that this system is no longer suitable and a scheme is hatched to buy these grant rights to build high-rise residential towers with premium prices. There is evidently a lot of money to be made and wherever profit is, greed and self-interest is sure to follow.

“Aren’t fireworks illegal in HK?”

“Out here, we make our own laws.”

Each character we meet is instantly memorable in their own way. The primary protagonist Jau holds a steely power and deep charisma in each scene. Keung displays an arrogant self-righteousness to acquire and achieve everything he wants, whilst Moon never wavers from her morality in spite of her hardships in life. And these are just a handful.

It’s a remarkable achievement that each character stands out and their motivations are always clear. The acting here is really fantastic. There are around a dozen characters each with their own plan, their own motivations and their own relationships. Following an individual or particular plot point is easy, but trying to keep the entire thing in mind is more difficult.

Being more of a drama than a thriller, much of the driving force of the film surrounds changing allegiances, deal making and hi-tech surveillance. Knowledge is power and so on. The spy equipment in the film is unbelievable in its omnipotence and the user happens to see everything important, everywhere. It’s a little silly, but it does lead to a few good laughs and moments of tension. The film really shines however when the characters reveal their honest intentions to each other in simple conversation. Another credit to the acting.

The design on the film is great and this perhaps helps with giving each character their own personality, their own style. There are some really great shots here and the music is very fitting for a crime drama. There aren’t that many action scenes and the music doesn’t become overbearing in what is generally a low key film. The calm of the film also allows the tense scenes to really pack a punch.

Whilst the film may not enter your top ten lists of the year, or perhaps even your Top 10 Hong Kong crime dramas of all-time list (come on, we all have one) due to its complexity, it is a thoroughly enjoyable watch and I have found myself remembering moments and attitudes of the characters in the days since.

Overheard 3 screens as part of CRIME: Hong Kong Style on Fri 4 March. Find out more and book your tickets here.