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The Trough

Opening Date
01 May 2018
NC16 Violence and Some Drug Use
112 mins
Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitles
Action, Thriller
Nick Cheung
Nick Cheung, Louis Cheung, Michael Miu, Lam Suet
Yu Chau is a cop who has gone so deep undercover within the triad. He can no longer tell which side of the law he’s on. When he accidentally kills one of his pals in an operation, he runs off into the boonies to lick his wounds. Upon his return, he teams up with fellow officers Jim and Jackie to catch a triad Boss, only to unveil collusion with government officials at the highest level. Yu Chau once again faces the dilemma of taking the law into his own hands...
By Jason Lin  07 May 2018
The Trough depicts a visionary dystopia of crime that is edgy and capable of superficial bloodletting.
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Set a story within a fictional city and one can create a whole new realm to explore genre, or bend it. This is what Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung did in his latest film The Trough, which he directed and scripted. Possibly an attempt to revisit Hong Kong crime films, Cheung discusses right and wrong in a grim society that cannibalises moral values.
From a close encounter with a wild hyena to a bloody bullet-packed showdown between two rival gangs in a Laundromat, Cheung fully embraces action well within his narrative.  This may be Cheung’s way of depicting a scene of a life of crime - one that lives by the day and hardly any future in sight.
Yet the lead character Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) seems to feel that it is the best way to maintain justice in a bleak society like the one in The Trough. Cheung’s dystopia is also very well accentuated by the film’s stylish visual palette that reminds one of Sin City. Together with some intriguing choice putting scenes together, it is evident that Cheung has a vision and has keenly replicated a world of his own on the silver screen.
The audience also follows through with the characters that live in Cheung’s realm. The detective that Yu Chau is working for, Jim (He Jiong), may well be the rare righteous member of the police force as most of them has weighted towards other priorities instead of justice. As the prime antagonist who is simply known as Boss (Xu Jinglei), the characterisation reveals the complexity that goes on within the mind of the city’s mysterious criminal mastermind.
One that appears to be defended as a necessity and eventually portrayed as society’s new form of leadership. With the absolute power that this role has, it is a scary world that no longer lives on check-and-balance but by raw vigilance. Xu brings much to her role that is arguably the most intriguing and layered character in the film.
While there is much praise towards Cheung’s visionary filmmaking, it is unfortunate that his efforts in the storytelling department is lacking. Without a solid story as the film’s core, Cheung has created many things on the silver screen with nothing to tell.
The Trough depicts a visionary dystopia of crime that is edgy and capable of superficial bloodletting but doesn’t go strategically for the jugular kill that it could and should have.
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