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ΆΙ«°€§ΕΚ (1984)
Love in a Fallen City

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/21/2009

Chow Yun-Fat is best known to western audiences for his roles in gangster films, where the image of him cooly operating dual handguns is one of the more recognizable in all of cinema. But Chow is actually one of Asia's most well-rounded actors, and made his mark with local audiences via his appearances in several romantic movies, with Love in a Fallen City being one of the best of the bunch. It's the sort of romantic film that even disgruntled and cynical guys should be able to enjoy without having to reach for a cold beer, several aspirin, and/or the fast-forward button.

Taking place in 1941, Love in a Fallen City centers on Pai (Cora Miao), a young woman who has been ostracized by her family for divorcing her rich husband. A local match-maker, Mrs. Hsu (Helen Ma), takes pity on Pai and decides to bring her to Hong Kong, under the guise of employing her as the Hsu's nanny, but in reality to introduce her to Fan (Chow Yun-Fat). Pai and Fan seem to hit it off, but Fan's refusal to marry Pai soon sours things. However, as the Japanese begin to invade Hong Kong, the two begin to realize their true feelings for each other.

Unlike many Hong Kong romantic films of the time, there is a refreshing lack of melodrama, even though some of the events in the film could have easily set up that style of acting. Pai's family treats her like the unwanted step-daughter in Cinderella, going as far as to refer to her simply as "sixth sister". Bucking the usual trend, Pai doesn't end up running through the rain in slow motion while a sad Cantopop ballad plays. Director Ann Hui allows Cora Miao (and all of the other characters in the movie) to develop naturally, which makes them much easier to digest for the viewer, and keeps them interested in their fates.

And one must also take note of how goddamn cool Chow Yun-Fat is in this. Even though he's playing a bit of a cad, he still comes off as extremely likeable, and you can really see why Pai eventually falls in love with him. This, of course, should really be no surprise to anyone familiar with the wider range of his work, but for those wanting to check out the "softer" side of Chow have a perfect vehicle in this. Even if dramas or "weepies" aren't normally your thing, Love in a Fallen City is still worth your time. It's a finely-crafted romantic film that shows that Hong Kong film-makers are well-capable of producing things other than dual-fisted bloodbaths, toilet jokes, or flying fisticuffs.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ororama
Date: 02/17/2009

Romance begins between the divorced daughter of a well to do family in decline and a wealthy international businessman in Shanghai and Hong Kong on the eve of World War II. Mr. Fan wants to be sure that Miss Pai loves him, and is not just using him to escape the trap that her place in her family has become. She is afraid of being discarded after he loses interest in her, and she doesn't want to repeat the failure of her first marriage. The question that they face is whether his ideal of love and freedom can harmonize with her goal of traditional marriage and commitment.

The performances of Cora Miao and Chow Yun Fat are excellent and their depictions of their characters ring true. Director Ann Hui tells the story expertly. She uses flashbacks to opera performances, and music and gestures characteristic of opera, to suggest that Miss Pai is playing a classic role, and is aware of it. The opera references also imply that her goal is to reach the romantic ideal presented in opera, despite her own experiences in marriage and family life that have fallen short of this ideal.

The lead characters do a lot of talking, but it's worth the effort to listen and think about what this movie has to say.

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 12/17/2002

This flick is based on a well known novel by Eileen Chang. This flick is not your typical love story. The main characters in the story, Pai Liu Su (Cora Miao) and Fan Liu Yuan (Chow Yun Fat), are not like Romeo and Juliet. In fact, they have a very ambiguous relationship to say the least. Liu Yuan is a rich playboy who says he loves Liu Su, but doesn’t want to marry her. Maybe Liu Su isn’t sure because of Liu Yuan’s playboy image, I don’t know. Nevertheless, you can tell that Liu Su likes the guy, but isn’t really sure of him. That’s why she puts on her poker face and goes back to Shanghai to see if Liu Yuan will still want her. Her gamble pays off as Liu Yuan begs her to come back to Hong Kong. Shortly after, Liu Yuan has to go to England for business sans Liu Su. Liu Yuan rents out a house for Liu Su, but then Japan invades Hong Kong, thus cutting the trip to England short. While back in Hong Kong, Liu Yuan without money is basically reduced to a “normal” everyday guy who makes Liu Su love him more. With all the pandemonium and damage going on with the Japanese invasion, the twosome settles down as an ordinary couple while Hong Kong falls.