As mentioned in an interview I had with Jevons Au during the Art Film Fest in Kosice, regarding the continuous protests in Hong Kong, “the main reason for the demonstration is the Extradition Law, which the Hong Kong government is trying to impose in Hong Kong. This means that if there is even suspicion that someone from Hong Kong is related to a crime in China, Chinese authorities can take him to China and bring him in front of the court.” “Who’s Next” deals with this topic implementing a rather pointed approach.
The story takes place in a future where the extradition law is already active. While news of people being extradited are heard in the background, we meet the protagonist of the film, Chan Chi Kin, a butcher, just across another man who does the exact same thing. The two get into an argument regarding their shared space, which is resolved when Chan’s daughter appears, stating the law. The argument, however, is far from over, as the same night the other butcher meets with a friend who is also an official with power regarding the implementation of the extradition law. Expectedly, Chan soon finds himself in more trouble he could ever imagined, after he is arrested supposedly for forging documents regarding the illegal import of meat from the mainland.
Yeh Ka Lun has a distinct purpose with this short, of highlighting the consequences of such a law actually applying in Hong Kong, with the main comment being on how easily one could be extradited and the consequences of such a practice, particularly in an era when the Mainland seems to want to subdue Hong Kong. The fact that the one who gets wrongfully accused is not an activist or any kind of individual who could be perceived as “enemy” by the Chinese authorities, states that the consequences of such a law could apply to anyone, and thus, fighting against it, should be everyone’s concern.
On a secondary, but also connected comment, the short deals with the corruption of the authorities, stressing the fact that it could make the consequences of the extradition law even worse. A third comment, although quite brief, seems to showcase the subservient nature of the previous generation in contrast to the new one’s who is more ready to fight, as exhibited quite eloquently in the scene with Chan’s wife and daughter in the police precinct.
Technically, the film is impressive for a short, particularly regarding the quality of the image and the cinematography in general, along with the editing that induces the film with a sense of speed that helps in the entertainment it provides. The work done in the sound is also good, with the same applying to the soundtrack, although at some points I thought that it added to some unnecessary melodrama during the final minutes of the film.
Zerisawa as Chan Chi Kin gives a fitting and in general realistic performance, although a bit excessive at some times. Chang Tsang Ning as his daughter gives a more measured performance, in a smaller part though, excellently highlighting the frustration the youth of the country feel these days.
In a style much similar to “Ten Years” , “Who’s Next” succeeds in stressing the disastrous consequences the Extradition Law could have for the people in Hong Kong, through an equally realistic and artful performance.