Published Jul 19, 2015Fire Lee's Robbery is a hard film to define. Although it won't see its premiere in its native Hong Kong for a few more months, and last night's (July 18) Fantasia International Film Festival screening was the first of its kind in Canada, those who have seen it already have touted it as being like a combination of early Kevin Smith (primarily Clerks, due to its setting and vulgarity) meets Quentin Tarantino (due to its over-the-top violence and narrative experimentations). Those comparisons are unfair, though; Robbery, really, is like no movie you've ever seen.
The script and storyline for Robbery is a university film professor's worst nightmare. Much like Clerks, almost the entire movie takes place inside a convenience store where the film's lead, an apathetic 32-year-old living in government housing, works to earn a living wage; on the first day of his shift, we see him passing the time by popping holes in boxes of condoms and licking pre-packaged sandwiches. But the fun stops when a recently freed jewellery thief comes into the store and decides to hold up the place.
From there, we're introduced to a number of different characters, one by one — a crime lord with genital warts; a sadistic police officer-turned-spy who's out for blood; a competing convenience store owner looking to shake things up; a quarrelling couple about to be married — who enter the store and are forced to play their part in the ongoing, ever evolving and loosely defined holdup.
Blood and bodily fluids are shed by the bucketful, and at times you'll wonder how Lee was given free reign to create a film that's so horrifically violent — and hilarious. But underneath the mayhem, Robbery offers some interesting insights into the inner workings of China's underemployed youth, the ones who once dreamt of being as big as Jackie Chan, but have to settle for much less due to what feels like a predetermined existence.
(Sun Entertainment Culture Ltd.)