Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1997, as political control of Hong Kong shifted from the British government to that of China, Hong Kong's legal system went through a metamorphosis, and this drama tells the tale of one young man caught in the middle. As a teenager, Cheung Yau-ming (David Lee) fell in with a group of thugs and in 1985 was involved in an assault on a girl that led to her death. Cheung was arrested and found guilty of the crime, and was sentenced to be "detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure" -- an open-ended sentence that could last as long as the authorities saw fit. Twelve years later, Cheung is still behind bars, and with mainland China soon to take power, Zhang Yul-ing (Ai Jinhg), a Chinese activist, sets out to help Cheung and others like him by working with lawyers to give prisoners fixed sentences, rather than have their sentences translated to "at the Chief Executive's Pleasure," which generally means the prisoner is never released. While Zhang and lawyer Leung (Stephen Tang) do all they can to help, it doesn't take long for them to realize that they're facing an uphill battle. Danghau Tung Chee-wah Fatlok generated a certain degree of controversy upon its initial release; the film was expected to be the opening night attraction at the 2001 Hong Kong Film Festival, but it was pulled from their schedule, with many believing the film's political content angered government officials who refused to allow the film to be shown, though a government spokesman claimed the film's screening was cancelled due to poor creative merit.