Prison Flowers Review: Chrissie Chau, Gillian Chung Play Unconvincing Convicts in Hong Kong Lock-Up Drama
Gillian Chung as a prison gang boss? Try not to laugh too much.
Prison Flowers (PG13)
Starring Chrissie Chau, Gillian Chung, Karena Ng
Directed by Lui Mei-Fung
Is this flick about a women's prison in Hong Kong or a dressing room for models?
Dang, these catty girls look good with great skin and really nice hair.
They dagger-stare, stab with shanks, brawl like gangsters and keep ambushing each other in the showers. Happens so often we get this classic piece of stay-alert advice — “Use your mind when you take a shower next time.”
Which, by the way, allows for bareback displays if you're turned on by gals behind bars. Actually, more like a bar counter since you need to be somewhat tipsy for this deal.
Because this HK version of Orange Is The New Black looks like a #MeToo take on Mean Girls locked up in a long-term dorm. I thought it's a TV series made in the 1980s. But it's apparently shot in 2019.
Maybe Prison Flowers, helmed by short-film female director, Lui Mei-Fung, is being released now after its own incarceration. Although to be fair, this show would’ve spat out much more zing if it’s in its original vibrant Cantonese instead of the dubbed Mandarin making it seem more lame.
A prominent businesswoman named Top Sis (P Storm’s Chrissie Chau), comes in after being framed for embezzlement. You know how it is — everybody’s innocent. The gals are primarily victims, mostly done in by lousy men.
Strong-willed Top Sis is given the newbie treatment of threats, dunked food and the ubiquitous blanket party when she’s beaten up at night by the goons — led by “Crazy Bitch” — of resident bully and clique leader, Mrs Ball (Gillian Chung). Don’t ask me about her name. She organises zero Escape To Victory football matches.
Top Sis joins the gang of Ball’s arch-rival, Mother Bo (Carrie Ng), soon-to-be-released den mum of the nicer girls, who misses her own neglected daughter. Watch this sub-plot for a parent literally swallowing up her love very painfully.
Mother Bo and Mrs Ball compete to be the cigarette supplier to gain turf power within the cells. The cigs are coveted by the inmates, with even ang moh and Vietnamese ones hanging around like touristy extras without any concern for cancer.
Everyone’s cosy-uncosy world of antagonism is suddenly overturned by the arrival of an even worse common enemy. Butcher Wan (Rain Li), a ruthless hardcore returnee-convict, fights dirty, cuts up a chick’s face and cleans house as the new Big Bad dominator.
Director Lui clearly wants her locked-up tale to be as gritty as possible. Ideally with bad girls looking real bad. And the caged life to be the thug life with truly “inside” politics.
“In here, the rich bows down to the fist,” goes the credo.
Problem is she has a whole bunch of recognisable faces acting tough but looking phony and unconvincing. As though the make-up chair is right next to the prison-garb fitting room.
It’s refreshing though to see female jailbirds after manly prison movies starring, say, Louis Koo. There’s a softening here with cliched sob stories that contain deep down an element of male bashing. The assertion being good women will take the fall for rotten men right into anywhere.
You know that Lui is going easy on the plight of mutually suffering women with even solitary confinement turning into a bonding moment between enemies played by familiar celebs Chau and Chung.
Prison Flowers is a sisterhood in the bad hood of jail time which simply should have showed less starry thorns. (2/5 stars)