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s (2004)
Yesterday Once More

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/07/2011

Though ostensibly Yesterday Once More is a heist picture, it's quite different than what comes to mind when most people think about when they envision a Johnnie To crime-themed movie. Having more in common with the breezy 1960's romantic comedies of Cary Grant than To's usual quirky and violent efforts, Yesterday Once More initially holds some promise, but quickly falls apart after the audience realizes that neither of the two lead characters are particularly likable, which leads to not really caring at all about their fates.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 01/02/2008

“Yesterday Once More” tries to get by on the coruscating star power of Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng. It succeeds for a portion of its ridiculously drawn out length but ultimately fails as a caper flick, a romantic comedy or just an entertaining movie. Life among the Hong Kong haute bourgeoisie and the criminals who prey upon them looks extremely dull. The movie takes place on ocean going yachts, in multi-level condominiums, the owners’ boxes at the Jockey Club and a lovely little 14th century stone cottage in the Tuscan hills. The decor is exquisite and the designer clothing is to die for. The chairs in Mrs. Allen’s home are intricate works of art and much more interesting than the attempts at verbal jousting between Mrs. Allen and the unfortunately named Mrs. Thief. Sammi Cheng’s costumes, particularly a number of flowing unlined silk outfits in pastel colors are lovely. Andy Lau’s character has a pair of Lamborghinis while Sammi, due probably to the intricacies of product placement, has to settle for an Audi convertible. The views from every window are breathtaking, the streets are clean and free of traffic and the forces of law and order seem to be on permanent vacation. “Yesterday Once More” is like a Broadway musical that flops because the audience leaves the theater humming the scenery.

An attempt to inject some bathos by having both leads hospitalized with leukemia only makes them seem more annoying. The only interesting characters—the doctor, the wine merchant, the investigators and especially the insurance surveyor—have very little screen time. Unfortunately they stand out as the only people with recognizable human emotions in the movie. Gordon Lam’s vainglorious and very incompetent insurance investigator—his men, armed with the power of a search warrant, fail to discover a wall safe behind a hinged picture while spending the day trying to find a missing necklace—was a welcome distraction from the ennui-inducing depiction of the rich and uninteresting. A movie built around his character could have been better—actually almost anything could have been better. Chun Won and Hui Siu-Hung as competent and corpulent private investigators, gourmands who never met a free meal in a three-star restaurant they didn’t like, were funny and a bit endearing. Lin Wai-Kin as the beleaguered doctor had almost all the funny lines in the script but had the smallest part of any featured player. To say that Courtney Wu’s comic talents were wasted in his turn as a wine merchant would be accurate but imprecise, since everyone’s talent was misused here.

The last half hour drags by on leaden feet. We know what must happen at the end of the movie but no longer care—if, that is, we ever did. There is a replay of a jewelry heist that was dull the first time through and unendurable the second. Everything that happened in the first part of the film—the theft, the trip to Italy, the breakup, the attempted reconciliation, even going to the original spot where the leads formerly stashed their loot—is done over. It is a bit quicker the second time but seems to take much longer.

Johnny To has made more good films in any decade of his career than most directors make in a lifetime. He is an absolute master of the police thriller, has created existential hit men, gangsters with as much style as the Milan Fashion Week and tough guys with codes of honor rooted in medieval times. More importantly he has made those characters authentic, credible and recognizable as human beings. His forays into comedy have been uneven—some good, some lousy—but “Yesterday Once More” shouldn’t be seen as anything other than a genius having a really bad six weeks.

Not recommended

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 04/24/2007

Despite priviliged upbringings, Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng find themselves drawn to thievery, and then to marriage. Despite having more money than they know what to do with, Sammi is always greedy when it comes to dividing the loot, so Andy divorces her. 2 years later, she's due to marry again, but is it for love or jewelry?

Yet another Andy Lau/Sammi Cheng romantic pairing from Johnnie To, and I'm sure I'm not the only person that was quite tired of them by the time it came out - witness, it took me 3 years to actually get around to watching it, and they haven't made another since. This one breaks the formula established in NEEDING YOU up a bit by having the couple start out married. They split up in the first 5 minutes, but we always assume that they will get back together when they realise they love each other more than money, or something. Things go broadly as expected until the film throws a curveball just past 1 hour in, which takes things in an unexpected direction to a rather strange conclusion.

This plot always sounded suspiciously similar to that of the same years' "World Without Thieves" to the casual observer (me), but I guess the similarities are relatively superficial. WWT is much better, to name one difference ;-)

I have generally enjoyed the Milkyway romcoms, but I guess each one satisfied less without actually becoming worse - they just weren't adding enough knew to the mix each time. YOM does add some new elements, indeed elements which make it hard to really describe it as a romcom at all. I guess it's more romantic than it is funny, though not being afflicted with human emotions myself, I'm only guessing that other people would find it to be romantic... personally I found it rather unclear as to what the characters were thinking or feeling, or why I should care much. Whilst there were moments that I could relate to and enjoy, the overall experience left me pretty cold and confused, so I can't say I valued it that highly.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/18/2006
Summary: Ummm

I obviously didnt enjoy this movie as much as the others.

The plot for me was a divorced couple who would do ridiculous things to try to win each other back, and jealously is one of there weapons that they use. But they goto extreme lengths to do so.And thats about it............

There was no laughs for me here, one reviewer felt that NEEDING YOU.... was inferior to this movie but i totally disagree. For myself, i felt like Andy Lau just went through the motions of doing minimal acting while SAmmy's character is a little too bitchy for my liking.

Sorry to rock the boat but i was bored with this movie

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 08/30/2005
Summary: very moving, funny film.

The answers to the rhetorical questions I posed about director Johnnie To in my review of his film 'My Left Eye Sees Ghosts' are no and no. He certainly is not overrated in any way and he did not blow his load with 'The Mission'. The darling of Cannes scores big with Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng in multilayered film that cleverly mixes romance, action-adventure, and politics.

Both actors turn credible performances, especially Ms. Cheng. I'm not going to try to describe the plot since it is convoluted to a minor fault. Kind of like 'The Thomas Crown Affair' sequel, if you can imagine it, with Faye Dunaway [Sammi] and Steve McQueen [Andy] teaming up to pull off big time crimes together. Leftist subtext places high class elegant lifestyles against highly charged atmosphere of national politics in HKSAR. Never mind that stuff, though. This is a very moving, funny film.

copyright 2005 j. crawford

more at happyfortune.org

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: timktai
Date: 03/29/2005
Summary: A Romance movie disguised as a Heist movie

I've read some other reviews of this movie comparing it to To's earlier Needing You (2000), usually preferring the latter.

I'd say YOM was a much better movie. The emotional interaction between the characters played by Sammi Cheng and Andy Lau seem more believable despite their over-the-top backdrop of heists, expensive apartments, wine and cars.

But this is not a heist movie! The heists replace more ordinary scenes in more ordinary movies, and they're arranged to be more comical than clever.

What's really on show here is the relationship between Sammi and Andy's characters. It's a quirky relationship. I had a hard time understanding it to start with, but it grew on me over the course of the film.

Anyway, it's a nice movie. Go see it!