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All Justin and his father want to do is sit down and enjoy a soccer game together. This simple act between father and son sparks a chain of events leading to Justin's father's deportation. On the run Justin must embark on a thrilling adventure to re-unite with his father. But in order to fight the system, he must enlist the help of a former anarchist. Together they will need to apply the secret of the Hop.
Director and Cast
Biographies of Director and Actors
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Format: DVD (NTSC)
Encoding: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Letterboxed
Screen Format: 16x9 Widescreen (Anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
October 25, 2002
Belgian cinema no longer ceases to shock, but also to seduce. The new great surprise is called Hop and is director Dominique Standaert's first feature film. This native of Bombay tells us the story of a little boy named Justin whose father, an illegal immigrant living in Belgium, is sent back to Africa by a harsh administration. The path of the child crosses that of an old original, ex-bomb disposal expert of a terrorist group who decides to use his talent (and his revolt hardly émousée) for an urgent cause: to organize a blackmail attack to secure the return of Justin's father... Based on the romantic fight for a more just world, Hop agitates with humor and tenderness a cocktail spiced with debonair anarchism and a playful mélange of cultures. Dominique Standaert balances tragedy and comedy, the moving and the burlesque. Jan Decleir and little Kalomba Mbuyi bring a new film where Ansou Diedhiou holds admirably onto the role of the expelled father, who simply wanted to watch African Soccer star Emile M'Penza on television! Filmed on high definition video and in black and white, Hop skillfully marries diversity and a subject of burning actuality. One vibrates, one laughs, one reflects before this sympathetic spectacle and very nicely implemented work, bathing in a very communicative spirit of solidarity."
--Unknown/ Le Vif - Review
By Ray Young
We’ve become so conditioned by color in the movies, that when Hop opens in stunning black-and-white, it immediately begins its seduction. The tale of ‘the hop’ is related by an African teenager, Justin, the sole black among white students in a classroom in Brussels. He’s giving an oral report explaining why Pygmies speak French, tracing it back to Julius Caesar and the elephants of Hannibal. The teacher and class are drawn in by the mystique and secret of ‘the hop’ — a tactic, an evasive maneuver, a bluff, a smokescreen — and so were we. It distracts us from realizing the black-and-white photography mirrors the race issues Hop artfully attends to.
Played by Kalomba Mbuyi, an engaging young actor making his debut, Justin is a straight-A student who must rely upon ‘the hop’ as a means to survive. He and his widower father are illegal immigrants, using their wits and skills to avoid deportation and blend in to the local scenery. But the father is eventually caught, and Justin must formulate a ‘hop’ to bring him home.
The feature film debut of writer/director Dominique Standaert, Hop calls attention to the (generally unspoken) racism within blue-collar European neighborhoods, and the ease most white men have in condemning minorities. As dialects alternate between French and Flemish, however, the Belgian culture is observed with some discretion as something random and unfocused, making the film’s concerns of race and deportation simultaneously threatening and ironic.
Standaert takes sly liberal jabs at the Belgian Office of Foreign Affairs, a conservative dinosaur prone to bullying tactics when deporting Justin’s father (played with the submissive unease of someone who’s ‘been there’ by Ansou Diedhou). When Justin tricks them with ‘the hop,’ the picture approaches areas posing any number of David-versus-Goliath clichés. Yet Kalomba Mbuyi’s affecting performance, swaying easily (and believably) from comedy to pathos, combined with the script’s clever detour into the world of a semi-retired communist activist, add a human dimension to the film’s political ideology.
In this latter part, a droll rescue plot through an imaginary army of revolutionary Pygmies, the theme of small versus large coincides with the elucidating of differences separating anarchy from terrorism. With his burly deportment reminiscent of James Whitmore or William Bendix, Jan Decleir plays the activist, Frans, as an intellectual whose militant nature has been stifled by lethargy. (He’s also a wry comic foil to Mbuyi’s young idealist.) After the scenario has bridged its disparate cultures — either with the help of a compassionate official (the actress Alexandra Vandernoot alternating from icy to magnanimous), or Frans’s silently quixotic companion (Antje De Boeck), or the region’s shared enthusiasm for soccer — the picture finds a group of unlikely allies gathered ‘round the TV. It’s a disquieting scene in which black is momentarily tolerated or accepted by white, but only by white’s tainted grace.
Hop is a rich production from modest means. At the outset, Vincent D’Hondt’s musical score is playfully melodic, reminiscent of some of Nino Rota’s work for Fellini. And Remon Fromont’s cinematography — shot with the digital 24P camera — explores the breadth of its black-and-white imagery, that metaphor for racial themes and the simplicity of seemingly difficult choices amid confusion.
--Ray Young/ Flickhead - Review
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Jeff in Seattle - Customer Review
Bryan Pfleeger - Customer Review
Dominique Standaert's Hop holds a special place in Belgian cinema: it was the first feature to be shot totally digitally and it looks great in a luminous black and white. While the black and white cinematography of Raymond Fromont looks great it may be a sort of analogy for the racial tensions that exist in some moden day European countries. A young African boy, Justin (Kalomba Mboyi) and his father(Ansou Diedhiou)---both refugees from Burundi---are living illegally in Belgium. Through a series of events started by an incident with their neighbors, the boy ends up in trouble with the law, eventually ending up separated from his father. Naturally, the main objective is the attempted reunion between the two. The film probes some interesting areas involving race and immigration and the first half of the film is quite engaging. It is in the second half that the film loses a little of its steam. In order to reunite with his father Justin engages the help of a former communist activist (Jan Decleir) and his housekeeper (Antje de Boeck) and through minor anarchist plottings try to convince the government to return the deported father. While the story is not a bad one things get a little to silly for the film's own good.The film's title comes from the Pygmy tradition of "the hop" which is a sort of trickery used to gain an advantage over an adversary. While this film is wonderful for its cinematography the story line could have been a little tighter. But all is made up for in the excellent performances by the cast. The Film Movement DVD includes the directorial debut film of Sofia Coppola Lick the Star. This is not a bad little film just one that takes a bit of imagination to take advantage of.
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