A little-known chapter in Hong Kong’s wartime history has been vividly re-created in “Our Time Will Come,” a female-driven drama poignantly directed by Ann Hui.
Set in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong circa 1941, this tenderly crafted intrigue concerns the covert efforts of a Communist resistance group called the East River Brigade to safeguard artists, writers, scholars and other cultural figures from likely imprisonment.
Although she wouldn’t appear to be guerrilla material, Fang Lan (the spirited Zhou Xun), a Wan Chai primary school teacher who has just broken up with her fiancé (Wallace Huo Chienhwa), finds herself recruited by Blackie Lau (a terrific Eddie Peng), the intrepid leader of the Urban and Firearms unit.
But her missions ultimately hit close to home after her initially disapproving mother-turned-courier (Deannie Ip) is captured by the Japanese.
Those accustomed to the sort of grandly executed, tightly paced escape/rescue sequences that tend to go with the territory will have to acclimate themselves to the film’s more subdued rhythms, but in time, the quietly unassuming, character-rich approach pays some affecting dividends.
While not completely devoid of derring-do thanks to Peng’s dexterity with those firearms, Hui’s strongly performed — as well as strikingly photographed and scored — production prefers to focus its energies on the actions of a grouping of ordinary people during extraordinary times.
‘Our Time Will Come’
In Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Playing: AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park; AMC Puente Hills 20, City of Industry