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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
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Reviewed by Sinnerman

Chinese Title: Tau hiu yan mat
Director: Heung Laap Hang
Writing Credits: Fan Yau Man
Main Cast: Emil Chau, Daniel Wu, Maggie Cheung Ho Yee, Grace Hip, Lai Yiu-Cheung
Genre: Drama
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Year Released: 2001
Runtime: 88 min

"If the pillars are strong, the battle is not (yet) lost..."

Headlines sounds simple enough.

A journalist’ death triggered his heartbroken girlfriend’s (Lee Sin-Jie) suspicion. A reporter herself, she enlisted the help of an ex-cop turned debt collector (Anthony Wong), in unraveling the mystery of her lover’s "accident." Together, the team of investigators dived headlong into a cauldron of political intrigue and organized cover-ups which may potentially be breaking head line news, or a revelatory realization on the very nature of "truth" itself.

What originally felt like a normal police procedural eventually revealed itself. Headlines successfully weaves into the fabric of this movie, an intriguing take on the current state of affairs. It attempted to peel away the labyrinthine cobweb of business, politics, media and the tricky essence of "official" truths.

Most enlightening to me about Headlines though, is not the opportunity for above intellectualizing. It’s the realization that a profoundly heartfelt human touch is never lost in this socio-political essay. Yes, grand issues were on the menu, but the side dishes enticed me more – the people making up the "system." I am captivated by how their strengths, frailties, and differing personalities all add enlightening shades onto an already effective thriller.

While the myriad characters in Headlines are chasing for (or covering up) the elusive truth, their motivations and behaviors remained lucid. For despite the backings from their respective institutions (be it an industrial force of media, wealth, power or politics), they are very often guided by such heartening human traits as regrets, honor, moral conviction and most of all, benevolence. Together, the mosaic of people dotting this film's universe has stamped an indelible face of human decency, in a world ever encroached by faceless powers.

By film's end, not all plot holes are filled (and sensibly so, if you ask me). But the affirming message I got from the movie is vastly rewarding. A "system," however noble, weak, or even "shady," is made up of people like you and me. And if these "pillars" stay tenacious, pragmatic, with beliefs rooted in simple human goodness, nothing can take them down. We can beat the system, or at least stand up to its daunting challenges, if we truly believe in our innate capabilities to make the best, the most moral, and ultimately, the "right" decision.

My heart hence warmed with the knowledge that it is a Hong Kong film, which provided above insights. There is hope yet for the HK film industry, for the present cloudy socio-eco-political climate, and most important, for the Hong Kong people.

This is one of 2004’s best films from the SAR. Go check it.