No Such Person movie review: identity theft scams at the heart of a Hong Kong-hijacking mystery thriller with an anonymous cast

3/5 stars

No such person is a rarity in Hong Kong cinema these days: a purely commercial, low-budget production with an anonymous cast and minimal artistic flair that the producers nevertheless believe can attract an audience with its attentive storytelling.

Revolving around the nefarious activities taking place in an illegally subdivided apartment, the mystery drama marks the latest attempt at shaping a twisty thriller from Christopher Sun Lap-key (Deception of the novelist), who remains best known to many as the director of the 2011 parody 3D and Zen sex: Extreme ecstasy.

The film opens with a brief scene in which two people, claiming to be church officials, occupy a vacant space in an old building. It then jumps forward nine months to follow young woman Amber (Kaylee Yu Hoi-ki) as she begins renting a furnished room in a property owned by Ray (Terry Zou Wenzheng), who claims to be a veterinarian.

In the next scene, police warn the parents of a woman whose body was found under a cliff along a hiking trail in a rural park in Hong Kong.

And then we’re back to learn more about those who occupy the rooms next to Amber’s: Sisi (Winnie Chan Wing-nei), a live streamer who produces sexually charged content for her audience; Ming (Himmy Wong Ting-him), a stock speculator in serious financial difficulties; and Ping (May Leong Cheok-mei), a creepy old lady who sells second-hand items on the street.

Of the, No such person gradually reveals the plight of Amber, a former yoga instructor who appears to be in emotional distress; the mystery surrounding Ray’s premises and the ulterior motives of the characters make up a large part of the plot.

Himmy Wong as Ming, a stock speculator, in a picture from No Such Person.

Although the film is set in a subdivided apartment – ​​a mainstay of Hong Kong social realist dramas – and is about the widespread social phenomenon of identity theft scams, Sun and his screenwriter Chen Hang have no ambition beyond serving up a modest slice of B-movie entertainment.

Their film disseminates just enough information to keep the viewer engaged, before an escalation in the final act reveals the ungodly nature of the entire enterprise.

Even so, the visual depictions of sex and gore remain modest – which probably reflects more the limited scale of the production than any penchant for restraint on Sun’s part.

His story isn’t as clever as the filmmakers want it to be, and the sordid nature of his revelations betrays Sun’s roots as a director and producer of erotic films. Again No such person is entertaining enough for those who watch it with an open mind.

Terry Zou (left) as Ray and Kaylee Yu as Amber in a still from No Such Person.

At the risk of condemning it with faint praise, the film feels different from most Hong Kong productions we see these days – and that makes No such person a welcome addition to the canon despite its many flaws.

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