Under Review: ‘Hi, Fidelity’


My second on-the-road film review, written from Hong Kong, is set in this financially successful city squeezed against Chinese hills that rise into the mists. And that, metaphorically, could describe the plot of this movie.

Four HK wives of successful HK husbands find themselves lonely, romantically unfulfilled and frustrated with their lives. Their husbands take them for granted and, in the opening minutes, one husband has been caught on camera involved with a younger woman.

So, in essence, these women inhabit a material world (Hong Kong) whose only anchor is wealth. Their Chinese heritage and values are squished into a faded, forgotten backdrop (the misty Chinese hills).

First of all, I am definitely not recommending this movie as it has too many artless moments of oversimplified entanglements. I simply didn’t understand enough about the subject matter to avoid choosing to see this film in the first place. However, the purpose in viewing films made in Hong Kong was to gain some insight about the HK culture, and that is the focus of this review.

I’m not sure that this film’s plot is based in reality, but for sure it exposes a woman’s fantasy. The ignored wives, hurt and angry, decide to get back at their husbands, though secretly, and visit a club that caters exclusively to pleasure women. Is there such an institution? Is this a new phenomenon in the modern age of Hong Kong? I don’t know.

However, there are virile, good-looking men at this film’s retreat who specialize in pleasing their clients. Though there are no blatant scenes, enough is inferred to get the point across that this is a bordello for wealthy women with time on their hands.

The head of this female pleasure palace is an energetic, self-confident Asian woman who is all about business and her bottom line. With her bleached blond hair the viewer immediately recognizes the nod to the west.

There are plenty of views of the affluent side of Hong Kong, including shots from Victoria Peak, vistas from homes with swimming pools overlooking HK skyscrapers and fancy little sports cars winding through well-tended mountain property. This is the backdrop of a wealthy class that has neglected its women, the traditional transmitters of culture and values, in its rise to socio-economic success.

However, the audience notices that with success has come materialism and a moral abyss. With a preoccupation on presentation, which includes fashion, make-up, and personal preoccupation, even the children become neglected.

There is no juxtaposition to a more traditional presence in HK, so the whole city is typified as a population that has lost its way. However, there is one moment where the hired help, a chauffeur, brings the son of one of the women to the “retreat.” The surprised mother immediately, with a glimpse through her son’s eyes, recognizes her depravity and makes an effort to reform herself on the spot.

To be frank, “Hi, Fidelity” has not received good ratings, with earned reason. But, like “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” it is a cautionary tale about the lure of economic ambition and the shallow relationships that may follow. The West is subtly represented as a corrupter and traditional Chinese values as the path to contentedness.

Production Notes

Directed and written by: Calvin Poon
Cast: Pat Ha, Michelle Ye, Carrie, Ng and William Chan
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Subtitle: English
Year: 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance

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