The Empty Hands – Review by Jamie M MacDonald

I do love how there is so much heart that shines through within the drama scenes.

Mari (Stephy Tang) is the daughter of a Karate instructor, played by the legend that is Yasuaki Kurata. Half Chinese and half Japanese Maris has grown up in Hong Kong, in an apartment that her father bought to run his Dojo, after he was transferred there for work back in the 70s. Losing a karate competition as a child, makes Mari detest Karate and her father`s teachings. When her father passes away she is annoyed to learn, that her dad has only left her 49% of the apartment. The other 51% he left to his favourite student Chan Keung. This makes Mari further recent her father, but Chan Keung offers her a deal. If she enters a competition and is standing after three rounds, win or lose. He will sign the apartment completely over to her…

Chapman To directs and stars as Chan Keueng, in this charming sports drama, where the character of Mari must learn to take responsibility for herself, and her actions. Mari will travel through her grief to find herself. Since her loss as a child at the Karate competition she has lost herself and blames everything that is wrong with her life on everyone around her. Stephy Tang does an amazing job, in the role of Mari, the film rests squarely on her shoulders, and she is very much up for the task. Chapman To is his usual solid self, this is his second feature as a director and I can't wait to see what genre he tries next. As his first feature as a director was 2016 comedy Let's Eat, The Empty Hands is his second feature as a director and it is, perfection. I do love how there is so much heart that shines through within the drama scenes. There are a few little quirky moments in the film, but they really don't feel out of place. My favourite scenes are the flashbacks between Mari and martial arts legend Yasuaki Kurata. If I was go on about Kursata – we`d be here for quite a while with my ramblings on the genius of this iconic action star. I'll just say how much I admire and respect the man and his amazing body of work. My favourite character of the film is Mute Dog, played by Stephen Au, the wise old man of the piece. My Empty Hands opens and closes with him, it's just truly a wonderful intro and ending. What sports film wouldn't be complete without a training montage, I am sold on a film with a training montage; My Empty Hands contains a really nicely put together one.

It is not by the numbers sports film though. It is much more than that, and by the end of the film. You will get what I mean…

For me, most definitely one of the highlights of the Focus Hong Kong film festival, for sure!

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