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HAND ROLLED CIGARETTES (2020, CHN) – 7/10

At the end of the nineties, Hong Kong changed from a British protectorate to an integral part of China, and it was in the period 1996 to 1997 that the action of this neo-noir crime begins. Immediately in the opening credits, we learn that the British government left local people who were members of the local armed forces or army to fend for themselves. At the beginning, we meet four Hong Kong soldiers on one of their last missions, and then the action moves to the year 2019, when we see that they all coped differently. One of them, Kwan (Ka-Tung Lam), became a member of the triad criminal organization, and the rest of the old society cut off all contact with him after he extorted money from one of his friends for stock market speculation back in 1997 and smoked seriously when the financials arrived crisis.

His friend Winston then killed himself, the rest of the team never forgave Kwan for that, and we see him now in serious debt and trying to make ends meet in various ways. He is an intermediary in the smuggling of turtles between a Taiwanese smuggler and the head of a local triad, and the situation in his life will be further complicated when the hiding place in his apartment is found by Mani, a small-time thief dealer and immigrant to Hong Kong from a South Asian country such as India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka Chains. Mani and his partner have just slipped a bag full of drugs from the boss of the triad that Kwan works for, and although one would expect Kwan to hand the thief over to the boss, he will provide him with a hiding place while dangerous criminals are looking for him.

As it happens in similar films, at first there will not be much trust between them, but soon they will become friends, and Kwan, by helping this unfortunate man and his younger brother, will seek redemption for all the bad things he did in the previous twenty years . “Hand Rolled Cigarette” (Kwan is one of those guys who rolls tobacco himself and stacks it in a snuffbox, and this will eventually get him into serious trouble) proved to be a quality and interesting crime story. As one of the typical East Asian stylized neo-noir crime films, dark and violent that also had a bit of an urban western touch to me. It is a film about loyalty between individuals, but also between social groups and society, which is also an interesting social commentary on the issue of immigrants from the surrounding Asian countries who are often marginalized and partly because of this they often decide to go down the path of crime.

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