When Fai (Francis Ng) is released from prison, he goes straight back to his wee community on the street. Welcomed back by Master (Tae Kwan Ho) Brother Fei is home, again. That night the Police come and evict them all from their corner, throwing their personal belongings in the trash truck like it is nothing. Young social worker Ms Ho (Cecilia Choi) feels they should fight back. Take it to court and sue the government, for what has happened. Fei wants more than this – he doesn’t want the governments money. He would like them to apologise for what they have done. As Ms Ho gets to know Fei and his friends to build the case, she soon becomes aware that they have other concerns going on in their life on the streets.
This is not my usual kind of Hong Kong film, but what a film. Driven with a powerful central performance from Francis Ng. Drifting, is a nonstop roller coaster ride of an emotional journey, that twists its way to one of the hardest hitting endings, that I have ever seen on film. We soon learn that the court case, is just in the back ground, as we get know Fei and the rest of the colourful characters of the street. Each one we get a little of their back story, just enough for the film to flow and us to care. Though the main ones we get to know are Fei, Master and a young man Fei takes under his wing that Fei names Muk. We also get to know Ms Ho, as she gets to know them all. Her efforts are all selfless, but unfortunately, as Fei says we make our own way. What makes this film even more hard hitting and why the ending just makes you gasp for breath, is the fact that it is based on a reallife case. I`d say that Francis Ng puts his all into the character of Fei, he really does give a career defining performance. For me my favourite character is master played by Tae Kwan Ho, he is magnetic when he is on screen, you are so drawn to him. He is in one of the best acted scenes in the film as well, for me. Not really saying much, but all done with emotion on his face. That little scene is a masterclass in acting, and did I don't mid saying, bring a tear to my eye.
Written and directed by Jun Li Drifting for me, is one of the best films of 2021. The screenplay is so strong and is what makes the film stand out from the crowd. The exchanges between actors are what hook you into their world. One thing Fei says as he`s leaving the prison right at the start of the film is “Just a bigger prison out there anyway”. That line stayed with me, as I watched the rest of the film, then it all comes full circle and you know why he thinks that. Li`s direction is very slow, this is his style, it needs to be like this for the drama to unfold, so you take it all in.
One other thing Fei says to Miss Ho is - “do you know why we give junk to each other when just out of prison? - we like company down here” that line will always stay with me. Drifting truly is a film that demands to be seen...
Check out the Chinese Visual Film festival to book tickets to some great films http://chinesevisualfestival.org/chinese-visual-festival-2021/2021-programme/