16 Strangers on a bus. An apocalyptic accident. A downtown full of people: vanished. The newly-dead: instantly decaying. Ominous glimpses of men in gas masks. What's happened to the world and how far would you go to get your life back?
Summary: A night like any other in the streets of Hong Kong: in the midst of the tangle of night-owls, cars and vendors, a group of passengers climb aboard a minibus that is to take them from Mongkok to Tai Po. The group is as diverse as the city: there's a young man on drugs, an arguing couple, a woman with prayer beads and a girl who has just fallen in love, and behind the wheel sits the chatty driver. As the bus emerges from a tunnel, everything is suddenly quite still: the streets and buildings are all empty and there's not a soul to be seen; it's as if everyone has suddenly been swallowed by the earth. Only the millions of neon lights continue to blink, as if nothing has happened. The eclectic group of passengers seek refuge in a deserted café and discuss what they should do. Then they make a horrific discovery.
Okay so before I write anything else on this, I feel the need to make it known that this review is being based solely on the movie that I watched. I say this for a couple reasons. For one, this movie is based off of a web novel entitled Lost on a Red Minibus to Taipo. Until now, I'd never heard of this novel; much less read it so I can't really comment on how true to the story it was. Secondly, from what I have read about this movie, the director took a lot of liberties within the story to express his own political views. Since I also have no clue about the political landscape of Hong Kong, those views are wasted on me.
So now on to the business at hand. This is a very strange movie to try to grasp. For the most part, I loved it. The acting was phenomenal. The survivors are such a diverse group of people and every one was played so well that it was extremely easy to attempt to follow the story. Speaking of the story, I was hooked from the start. It gives a brief introduction of some of the characters as they are walking around the city and eventually get on the bus. There is some random conversations as the bus drives through the busy city streets and enters a tunnel. When the bus exits the tunnel, everything is different. The streets are empty. There are no cars, no people. Slowly the passengers start to realize that something is wrong. It immediately made me think of The Langoliers and in much the same way, I was a little thrown off by just about everyone's ability to remain calm. Once they depart from the bus, everyone goes their separate ways but not before exchanging phone numbers because again, they are keeping a very rational frame of mind in the face of confusion and fear. That night they receive a phone call from an unknown caller. That caller doesn't speak but they do hear a high pitched noise. They all get in contact with each other and decide to meet at a deli in the morning. Once they meet up, they try to piece together what is going on. They receive another phone call and find that there is a code hidden amongst the high pitch scream. Using an app, they translate the code; which comes across in 2 messages.
Message 1: For here, am I sitting in a tin can. Far above the world.
Message 2: Planet Earth is blue and there is nothing I can do
One of the survivors recognized this which led to him singing Space Oddity and a really trippy music video kicking off. And yes, this was my favorite scene in the movie. Almost immediately after is when the survivors slowly start dying off in weird ways; spontaneous combustion, body melting away, etc... They start noticing people in gas masks around the city.
Unfortunately this is where the story starts to lose me. A lot of random information about what could possibly be going on comes to light. But there are so many weird scenarios all popping in that as the movie gets closer and closer to the end, it's become obvious that this movie is going to end with a lot of loose ends. And as expected, when it hits it's ending point, it literally just ends. It didn't leave SOME unanswered questions; it left ALL questions unanswered. I literally have no idea what any of this movie was about, what was going on, what caused it, etc...
This movie is technically classified as a satirical horror comedy, which is 100% spot on. It had it's “holy shit” moments, it had parts/characters that made me laugh. It had everything going for it. It was lining up to be an awesome movie. But with no second part (at least to my knowledge) in the works, dedicating 2 hours to watching a movie and have it end in such an incomplete manner really sucks. Which is what makes this one so hard to critique. I would love to say this is an awesome movie and everyone should see this, but it's hard to advocate spending time on something that will give you no closure at all. So take this as you will and watch at your own risk.
reviewed by Bobby