Wong Kar Wai’s CHUNGKING EXPRESS introduced audiences to the neon-slick world of Chungking Mansions, portrayed as a hotbed of drug trafficking largely facilitated by South Asian immigrants. Wong’s stereotypical portrayal of Hong Kong’s immigrant community is revisited and updated in Chan Kin Long’s HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE, a stylish crime neo-noir that throws it back to the golden age of Hong Kong cinema.
Mani (Bipin Karma), a young South Asian immigrant, hides from the gang members pursuing him in the Chungking Mansions apartment of one Kwan Chiu (Gordon Lam Ka Tung), a washed-up British Chinese soldier abandoned by the colonial government after the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. When Kwan discovers Mani, he soon learns that he has upset the same gang boss, Big Mouth Tai (Ben Yuen), that Kwan is in serious debt to. While Kwan agrees to shelter Mani, he demands payment and taunts him with ethnic slurs. But the two men gradually bond over their increasingly dire circumstances, becoming far more involved in each other’s lives than they’d planned to be.