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Diago

A potentially interesting subject receives dull treatment in the sluggish drama.

With:
With: Carl Ng, Wang Xiao, Zhou Shixuan, Carlos Ernesto Koo Ayala. (Cantonese, Mandarin, Macanese, Portuguese, English dialogue)

A potentially interesting subject — the reactions of the local population as Macau reverts to Chinese ownership in 1999 — receives dull treatment in the sluggish drama “Diago,” a disappointing sophomore effort from Chinese helmer-writer Zhang Chi (“The Shaft”). With its flat narrative, stilted thesping, melancholy mood and risibly bare-bones production design, this one-note pic is neither entertainment nor art, and seems unlikely to repeat the fest success of his feature debut.

Dour, twentysomething Sino-Portuguese policeman Diago (Carl Ng, beefily handsome but totally expressionless) works at airport immigration, plays mahjong with his fellow officers, and is obsessed with discovering his real father. His Eurasian colleague Peter (Carlos Ernesto Koo Ayala) plans to immigrate to Portugal with pretty bargirl Lulu (Zhou Shixuan). Newly arrived from the mainland, Mandarin teacher Li Nian (Wang Xiao) gives the police corps lessons in the soon-to-be-required language and, in her off time, searches for her former lover. Stylistic elements such as repeated images and minimal dialogue, which Zhang combined to achieve a poignant eloquence in “The Shaft,” register as monotonous here. Tech credits are lackluster.

Diago

China

Production: A Companhia de Cinematografia Hou Long, Preeminence Cultural Communications production. Produced by Wang Yan. Executive producer, Liao Zixin. Directed, written by Zhang Chi, based on a novel by Lio Chi-heng.

Crew: Camera (color), Liu Shumin, Yu Xiaoqun; editors, Hu Jianwei, Zhang; music, Dong Wei, Zhou Jiaojiao; production designer, Dong Sijun. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 7, 2010. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Carl Ng, Wang Xiao, Zhou Shixuan, Carlos Ernesto Koo Ayala. (Cantonese, Mandarin, Macanese, Portuguese, English dialogue)

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