Acclaimed director Johnnie To’s new effort ventures beyond his comfort zone of action and crime movies to direct a movie about a Hong Kong movie star, who was jilted at the altar by his actress bride. Depressed, he decides to travel to China to recover, and in a twist of fate, finds true love in a neurotic fan in the high-altitudes of Yunnan. The premise of romancing in the highlands that depicts how love could sometimes leave one breathless sound pretty poetic. But sadly, this film just didn’t do it for me. The good news is, this is a truly romantic movie you can enjoy during Valentine’s Day. Expect great performances from the cast (especially Sammi Cheng) and a story that may simply move your girlfriend to tears.
The clichéd love story took a few twists and turns here and there, but ultimately Cheng and Koo did not have much chemistry–I wasn’t convinced that they are in love. Cheung Siu Keung and To Hung Mo’s cinematography helps a great deal, using numerous lengthy wide angle shots to take in the beautiful surroundings, at the same time introducing Sue and her motley crew of gal pals who populate the hotel. Some elements click into place neatly, like stage design, props and makeup. But these technical dimensions often succeed in HK films while that elusive X-factor flounders by the wayside.
A big plus is Guy Zerafa’s score, which, this guy may be getting too prolific for his own good, as in the film, little of the usual panache associated with his work makes it to the fore. I must admit, the more you watched this movie, the more you will appreciate it. The editing certainly did not help this movie at the theaters. The movie was so fast moving that one may be lost among the various romantic stories of the leading lady. It is understandable that it is a hard to consolidate a person’s entire life into a short film. However, it jumps from one period to another without any explanations. If a person knows nothing about the modern Chinese history, s/he will not be able to understand most of it. Some of the scenes were also confusing. For example, why did the protagonist’s lover had to run away suddenly, etc?
To be fair though, the film is pretty enough, with an evocative score, like I mentioned above. Also, guys will get major brownie points showing this to their significant other. In this sense, the movie felt like a play. The acting was decent, nevertheless the lead actress was only passable. After being saturated by the main characters, I felt almost coerced into feeling invested in their lives and thus was curious to see the ending. However, the ending failed to make for the remainder of the film.