Hong Kong Critics Pick ‘Limbo’ as Best Film of 2021

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Action thriller “Limbo” was named best film of 2021 at the annual Hong Kong Film Critics’ Society Awards. The film’s female lead, Chinese actress Cya Liu, was crowned best actress for her role as a young addict.

Results of five awards and 10 recommended films were decided on Jan. 16, 2022 after nine hours of deliberation and three rounds of votes. A total of 48 films released in 2021 met the entry criteria for the awards, which is in its 28th edition this year.

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Critics said the Cantonese noir “Limbo,” based on the novel of the same name by mainland author Lei Mi, was an “extraordinary work.” It was directed by Soi Cheang (“Accident,” “SPL II,” “The Monkey King” series).

The grim, crumbling slum that serves as a backdrop for the story revolving around a cop duo’s hunt of a serial killer—just like how an imagined southern Chinese city depicted in the novel—is one metaphor for a “near future, abstract and mythical Hong Kong,” said the critics.

The film narrowly beat “Drifting,” a drama about Hong Kong’s homeless people based on true stories.

The best director prize went to the late Benny Chan, for his last film, crime thriller “Raging Fire.” Chan (“Gen-X Cops,” “New Police Story,” “Divergence”) died at the age of 58 in 2020. Critics said while Chan made a film that questions the principles of justice and morality in a compromised institutional system, he has also set a new bar for the aesthetics of action films with the finale shoot-out scene.

Black comedy “Time” by first-time director Ricky Ko snatched the remaining two awards. Eighty-five-year-old screen legend Patrick Tse, who began his career as an on-screen heartthrob nearly four decades ago when some films were still shot in monochrome, was named best actor for his refreshing performance as a retired assassin. The award for Tse, who is the father of actor-singer Nicholas Tse, is also his first acting award in his showbiz career.

The script penned by Ho Ching-yi and Gordon Lam, who is also the film’s producer (and the lead star of “Limbo”), was awarded best screenplay, for “telling the sad reality of elderly issues with lively black humor,” critics said.

The group’s annual list of recommended viewing includes: “Raging Fire,” “Hand Rolled Cigarette,” “Drifting,” “Time,” “Caught In Time,” “Coffin Homes,” “Shock Wave 2,” “The Way We Keep Dancing,” “Anita,” and “Zero to Hero.”

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