Jing cheng zhi wang (King of Peking)
6th October 2017 9.15pm at Vue West End
8th October 2017 1.15pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
A story of two Wongs. Australian director Sam Voutas has continued his series of Chinese features with his new piece King of Peking, and in the process has re-recruited Jun Zhao from his 2010 picture Red Light Revolution to be one half of his leading duo. In truth, Voutas’s King of Peking could probably be a genuine telling of a real-life story about a father and a son who just wish to get by in life the best way they can, but this by no means makes the film like any other.
It’s Beijing in the 1990s. Life is very simple, but disrupted by a child running through the streets calling all cinema fans to a screening for “one buck for one night only”. This is Little Wong (Wang Naixun), and he forms the second half of the Wong boys with his father. Big Wong (Zhao Jun) is a projectionist, but finds his hobby and career go up in flames (quite literally), and the two must persevere and find a way to carry on. Big Wong takes a job at the local cinema as a janitor, and the pair hatch an ingenious plan to make some extra cash, inventing the video pirating craze that is uncontainable today.
Through a series of acts that hold a number of entertaining encounters and dialogue within them, King of Peking is a fantastically funny comedy that carries its own moral lessons and punchlines. Zhao Jun and Wang Naixun are brilliant in their roles as the father and son duo, showing wonderful onscreen chemistry that casts a lighthearted lens over the picture. The film is sharp, snappy and witty thanks to the script and the talents of the actors delivering it, but the important undertones are preserved through the quality of the plot and simplification of the characters.
By breaking up the narrative into a number of acts related to Big Wong’s employment status, the feature become easily digestible, and the plot can be explained through visuals as opposed to dialogue. With the English subtitles, the act structure makes the dialogue less heavy on the audience’s eye. This allows the viewer to engage with the onscreen action and immerse themselves in the comedy and soundtrack, which features a number of joyous, comical, dated show tunes from earlier movies. A film of simplified appearance, King of Peking is a thoroughly enjoyable watch that asks little of the audience than to sit back and be entertained by the comical Wongs.
Jing cheng zhi wang (King of Peking) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Jing cheng zhi wang (King of Peking) here: