18 October 2010

Movie Review: Amphetamine 安非他命

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I attempted to learn Chinese calligraphy. Yes, it was in an embarrassing attempt to write poetry to impress a boy from Hongkong. Professor Tan, who has long since crossed to the other shore, spent my first three lessons on 我. In fact, I feel like I was more getting an introduction to the philosophy of the self than I ever learned in calligraphy. At such a young and tender age, I was too impatient so I ended my lessons after the fourth one and found a young woman from Macau who could focus on just the necessaries for the moment.

But yet, after watching this movie, I find myself remembering those lessons from Professor Tan. For those of you that do not know, 我 is the character for 'me' or 'I'. (我愛你 was naturally the focal point of my interests.) Professor Tan defined this character as being of the nature of two brothers in an eternal struggle. This is the nature of the I. Amphetamine is a story of this struggle as represented in a novel way.

We have Kafka, swim instructor and holder of a few other part time jobs, who crosses paths with Daniel, a financier. Kafka is straight and a drug addict while Daniel is gay and not a drug addict. Their story is one of deepening intimacy and trust as the two are locked into a struggle between chaos and stability and attraction and repulsion. Fate locks the two into a powerful and explosive relationship of love. It is a beautifully choreographed sword fight in the nature of the eternal struggle of 我. I also was not previously aware of how Amphetamine was translated into Chinese previously ( 安非他命 literally is security-not-his-life). But what does it mean to escape one's life into not-security?

This struggle repeats in fractal fashion throughout the film over and over again with increasing intensity until it finally exposes the final struggle of the soul -- between life and death, between love and time. When Kafka's comatose mother dies, the struggle comes to a climax, where everyone who has ever lost their mother is confronted with: do I follow my mother into death or can I live on without her in this world and let her go to the other shore without me? What is 我?

Pictures courtesy of http://www.amphetaminemovie.com/.


  1. OK. I will rewatch Permanent Residence before I watch this one. It might more sense to stop trying to view the film as one about a kind of romance between two distinct men, but extending from the same person. That might actually explain a lot about what is going on in that film.

  2. I watched this last Saturday and I found the story beautiful. I was annoyed though by the cut scenes and editing in the beginning - I found it confusing and jarring. Maybe watching it again will help smooth the narrative.

  3. @ac: it is totally internal.

    @drew: i must be a post-druggie. i found the cut scenes and editing to be helpful affectively to get into the struggle. =(

  4. waahhhh

    i wanna watch this... kaso nahirapana kong maghanap ng copy...

  5. the story seems interesting. haha the story's muscles are big. and the story looks hot. and the story has a nice nose. haha am i still talking about the story? lol