Mrs K only received a single screening this year at the 27th Singapore International film festival, but oh what a night it was. With a red carpet evening at the iconic and historic Capitol Theatre, Singapore welcomed the stars of Mrs K: veteran Hong Kong martial arts actress Kara Wai, Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai and Malaysian newcomer Siow Li Xuan, alongside director Ho Yuhang. Mrs K was screened as the first Special Presentation film of the SGIFF, and marked its Singaporean Premiere, after receiving screenings at festivals such as the prestigious 2016 Busan Film Festival. Check out our review below!
Ho’s fourth feature film, Mrs K, follows a housewife whose ordinary life is shaken up when former enemies reappear from her past, and she has to give everything she has to protect her husband and daughter. The film also stars Hong Kong veteran actor Simon Yam, award-winning Malaysian actor Faizal Hussein, Hong Kong martial artist Lau Wing, Malaysian film director Dain Iskandar Said and Hong Kong directors Fruit Chan and Kirk Wong.
Kara Wai is a bit of a chameleon, having starred in all genres of films across her 40 year career. From her cult favourite kick ass roles in martial arts films such as 7 Assassins to an award-winning dramatic role as a woman suffering from a cognitive disorder in Happiness, Wai truly is a veteran actress.
Now, she gets to play both mother and action heroine in Mrs K, which reunites her with Malaysian director Ho Yu Hang. At a time in her life where her career seemed to be waning, the stunning and unexpected success of Ho’s 2009 film At The End of Daybreak singlehandedly helped her bring it back to life, and even garnered her multiple Best Actress awards.
The film follows the seemingly perfect world of the titular Mrs K, who has settled into the domestic life of a rich housewife in Hong Kong, living with her gynaecologist husband (Taiwanese musician Wu Bai) and her teenage daughter (Siow Li Xuan). Her life is sent into upheaval when shady forces from her past dealing with the Macau underworld threaten to tear it all apart, with Simon Yam and sidekick Faizal Hussein in the antagonist roles.
In many ways, Mrs K is a celebration of spaghetti westerns, with its nostalgic electronic soundtrack reminiscent of older kung fu films and melodramatic standoffs . Mrs K also looks like it was a very fun film to work on, with guest stars killed off in the first few scenes (Hong Kong directors Fruit Chan, Kirk Wong Chi-Keung and Malaysian director Dain Iskandar Said), alongside snappy action sequences, with the odd dose of humour, including a fight scene involving Mrs K’s penchant and talent for baking. Wai is clearly in her element here, and director Ho’s well crafted world is both fascinating and keeps your attention locked, eagerly awaiting the next reveal.
The film’s script requires some trimming, with less focus on attempting to create more complex characters and more attention to editing. However, Mrs K manages to portray Kara Wai at an all time career high, with enough enjoyable action sequences to show off her kung fu prowess and homages to action classics. It seems almost like muscle memory and a tribute to her career as we watch her dispose of opponents with the flick of a wrist, and as you immerse yourself into the seedy underground world of modern pugilism, it’s easy to get swept up in the punches and kicks delivered by our dauntless heroine, and hard to forget her soon to be signature orange blouse.