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Plastic City

The 14 producers didn't spend much time reading the script, to judge by the narrative mire into which "Plastic City" sinks.

With: Anthony Wong, Joe Odagiri, Huang Yi, Taina Muller, Jeff Chen, Phelippe Haagensen, Antonio Petrin, Milhem Cortaz, Alexandre Borges, Claudio Jaborandy.

The 14 producers didn’t spend much time reading the script, to judge by the narrative mire into which “Plastic City” sinks. Third feature by Hong Kong d.p. Yu Lik-wai (aka Nelson Yu), best known as cameraman for mainland Chinese iconoclast Jia Zhangke, starts in the vein of his moody debut, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but ends up more pointless than his futuristic “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Look for this at fests enamored with Jia’s oeuvre and similar specialist gatherings.

Hong Kong’s Anthony Wong plays Chinese outlaw Yuda, and Japanese thesp Joe Odagiri is his adopted son, Kirin, who run a pirated-goods business in Sao Paulo’s multiethnic Liberdade nabe. Their seedy empire starts to crumble under pressure from corrupt pols, local competition (Antonio Petrin) and an ambitious Taiwanese businessman (Jeff Chen). Yu has a good eye for compositions, and (as in “Love”) Lai Yu-fai’s saturated, noirish HD lensing of bars, slums and sweat-soaked interiors is always atmospheric. But the script, full of gangster cliches, futuristic cityscapes and even manga-like martial arts, is a mess, poised between pretentiousness and perplexity. Wong and Odagiri, speaking Mandarin and Portuguese, punch the clock.

Plastic City

Brazil-Hong Kong-China

Production: A Gulane (Brazil)/Xstream Pictures (Hong Kong/China) production, in association with Bitters End, Sundream Motion Pictures, Paris Films, with participation of ARTE France, Media Factory, Ozone Network Co., TeleImage. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Fabiano Gullane, Caio Gullane, Chow Keung, Jia Zhangke, Yuji Sadai, Tsui Siu-ming, Debora Ivanov, Gabriel Lacerda. Executive producers, Tom Cheung, Rui Pires, Sonia Hamburger. Co-producers, Francois da Silva, Jacqueline Liu, Fumiko Osaka. Directed by Yu Lik-wai. Screenplay, Yu, Fernando Bonassi; co-writers, Liu Fendou, Han Dong, Danilo Giulane.

Crew: Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Lai Yu-fai; editors, Wenders Li, Andre Finotti; music, Fernando Corona, Yoshihiro Hanno; production designer, Cassio Amarante; costume designer, Cristina Camargo. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Aug. 29, 2008. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Special Presentations.) Portuguese, Mandarin, English dialogue. Running time: 114 MIN.

With: With: Anthony Wong, Joe Odagiri, Huang Yi, Taina Muller, Jeff Chen, Phelippe Haagensen, Antonio Petrin, Milhem Cortaz, Alexandre Borges, Claudio Jaborandy.

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