The films of the Hong Kong director Ann Hui (“A Simple Life”) can be less flashy than those of her regional contemporaries, like Tsui Hark and John Woo. But that’s to her advantage: With remarkable consistency, she has imbued her work with close observation, measured pacing and quiet gravity. Her latest drama, “Our Time Will Come,” a story of the Hong Kong underground during the Japanese occupation in World War II, upholds her high standard with its account of the making of a resistance fighter.
An earnest primary-school teacher, Fang Lan (Zhou Xun), lives with her mother (Nina Paw) in Hong Kong, and finds herself single when her boyfriend, Wing (Wallace Huo Chienhwa), decides to work for the Japanese. Fang’s awakening arrives after seeing how a visiting intellectual she admires is smuggled to safety by members of the Dongjiang guerrillas, who conduct campaigns against the Japanese. Recruited by the group’s rebel leader (Eddie Peng Yuyan, impressive as a dashing man of action), Fang eventually becomes a leader herself, whose spine and commitment are tested when her mother foolheartedly assumes a mission.
The story is framed by present-day black-and-white passages in which an aging war veteran (the Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung, excellent) recalls Fang’s valor. Tense sequences of undercover operations are reminiscent of those in Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Army of Shadows,” while moments of explosive violence have a “Godfather”-like immediacy. But it’s Fang’s transformation, embodied by Ms. Zhou’s lean, cool authority, that carries the most weight, lending the proceedings an unforced feminist dimension, and reaffirming Ms. Hui’s status as one of China’s cinematic treasures.
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