Street thug Fan (Neo Yau) lives fast as a hooligan with little regard for authority or his own life, regularly dealing with crooks and lawbreakers. After getting arrested by a dirty cop, however, he has to deal with the most immoral people he’s yet dealt with: guards at a juvenile corrections center in Hong Kong. With Prisoners is a standard reform drama wherein evil authority figures make the lives of mislead teens at a prison a living hell. Already crippling the film from the get-go is the poorly developed Fan, who has exactly two modes: he’s either blatantly rude towards everyone he encounters or he’s a people-pleaser with a heart of gold. Writer/director Andrew Wong Kwok-Kuen adds an undercooked side-plot about one of the nicer guards, Ho (Kelvin Kwan), and his failing marriage, but there’s so little in terms of logical progression that the drama which plays out feels forced—making both sides of this story unworthy of emotional investment.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival 2017 | Dispatch 3.