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精裝追女仔 (1987)
The Romancing Star

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 07/03/2010

After his career-defining turn as Mark in the heroic bloodshed classic A Better Tomorrow, Chow Yun-Fat arguably became Hong Kong's biggest actor virtually overnight. Never one to turn down a chance to make a quick buck, writer/director Wong Jing quickly tapped Chow to appear in The Romancing Star, a dopey romantic comedy that coasts by solely on the star power of Chow and, in one of her first starring roles, a young Maggie Cheung.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 12/26/2009
Summary: Worth missing

If comedy could be ranked on a continuum “The Romancing Star” would be closer to the Three Stooges than to Oscar Wilde. Which would not, in itself, be a condemnation of it; there has been plenty of comedy now considered classic or “high brow” that is full of scatological and sexual references and innuendoes, much of the work of Aristophanes being only one example. So slapstick, tastelessness or simply exceeding the boundaries decency and common sense doesn’t make a comedy bad. Inept execution does and this is where “The Romancing Star” falls.

Aristotle wrote that comedy is a representation of ridiculous, morally inferior but not vicious people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness which doesn’t cause pain or disaster. It other words it is not the opposite of tragedy. But he didn’t take the audience into consideration and the first half hour of this movie would have to cause discomfort if not actual pain to those watching. It is no more than a set up so that we can follow the antics of Traffic Light, Ugly, Tin Kin and Wong Yat Fat in their constant and always unsuccessful search for sex. Five minutes of them would have made sense. Six times longer was 60 times more dreadful.

The only reason to watch this movie is that is stars Maggie Cheung. While it is early, untrained and almost raw Maggie, she still almost makes it worth sitting through the entire dreary enterprise. The hair and make-up departments didn’t do her (or her fans) any favors. She sported a very deep tan, more so than her co-star Cheung Lai-Ping, and a long pageboy with blunt cut bangs. She could have been preparing for a Hong Kong remake of “Cleopatra”. Both Maggie and Lai-Ping spent much of the film in abbreviated outfits, either workout clothing or bathing suits. This made sense both in what context there was and in that this was a Wong Jing hot babes in short/tight/skimpy costumes extravaganza Other than the form fitting exercise gear most of Maggie’s costumes were atrocious. Two dresses in particular, in which she spent most her time during the second half of the movie, had to be seen to be believed—and I still couldn’t believe them. The first was a white/silver/ivory concoction that seemed to be made of billowing chiffon and looked more like a horror movie monster than a dress. It was so huge and so like a cobweb that it could have been devouring her. She clearly couldn’t do much in that dress, like get into a car, pass through an ordinary doorway or sit down. The second outlandish dress was much like the first although a deep blue and not quite as overwhelming, although still completely impractical. Both would have been considered impractical in Georgian England where bizarre outfits were commonplace.

Regarding the men, Chow Yun-Fat showed that he could have been an excellent comedy actor. Nate Chan’s talents have always escaped me and “The Romancing Star” did nothing to change that. Eric Tsang was on his way to major stardom as a clown in Hong Kong movies, as important on the jade screen as Will Kempe was in Shakespeare’s comedies. Here, however, he was all mugging and preening without the subtlety and perfect timing that he developed. Stanley Fung came close to stealing the show. If the scenes with the four guys were built around this accomplished comedy actor they might have been much better—or at least much less bad.

There are the usual Hong Kong comedy nods to class—richer is better, except when it isn’t—and to the postmodern malleability of identity as both Tung Tung and Wong Yat Fat pretend to be wealthy which makes them automatically more attractive and personable, even though Wong is hypnotized (as unconvincingly a spell as ever put on the screen) and Tung is dressed like a clown from the 18th century. “The Romancing Star” is more annoying than anything else with its quick flashes of comic brilliance that go nowhere. The parody of a scene from “A Better Tomorrow”, for example, is run under the closing credits.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/29/2006
Summary: gem of a movie.

Here is a gem of a movie from a time in Hong Kong cinema before The Killer [1989] and God of Gamblers [1989] made Chow Yun-Fat a huge international screen sensation. In The Romancing Star, writer and director Wong Jing puts Chow in an ensemble that includes Stanley Fung Sui-Fan, Nat Chan Pak-Cheung and a young Eric Tsang Chi-Wai.

Stanley Fung Sui-Fan was an established character actor at the time while comedian Nat Chan Pak-Cheung’s star was on the rise, like Chow’s. He fits in well and is far less annoying here than in some of his other film work. Eric Tsang is, as stated, young, energetic, and goofy beyond belief. Writer Wong’s screenplay starts with his standard “boys chasing girls” scenario that he’s used many times in his now long and illustrious career. Mix in lots of language jokes and misunderstandings as boys chase after the girls, played by Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk and Cheung Lai-Ping.

Vivid cinematography by David Choi Wa-Sing captures the vibrant pastel palette that was the fashion of the period. This early Wong Jing film parodies other hit movies of the time. In The Romancing Star, it is Sammo Hung Kam-Bo’s Heart of the Dragon [1985] and John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow [1986] that gets skewered.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 11/25/2005
Summary: Half and half

Eric Tsang was in his early and hyper annoying period when this film was made, before he matured to become one of HK's great character actors. Annoying is pretty much Nat Chan's entire style. And Chow YF tries hard to be even more stupid and annoying than the first two. Combine all this with almost no-one else getting a look-in for the first half hour, and it's easy to see why the first 35 minutes is almost unbearable.

Things start to improve then, and it's due in no small measure to the appearance of the female leads, Maggie Cheung and Cheung Lai Ping. Not that their acting is much better, but the story settles down a bit and so do the guys, as they compete for the girls' attention.

The movie is quite enjoyable from then on, and there are quite a few hilarious moments. My favourite is where they do a take on Heart Of Dragon. Stanley Fung puts in a terrific physical comedy turn. And I enjoyed the antics of the statues at the end.

Overall, pretty good. I'd have rated it two points higher if not for the opening scenes sans women.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 03/05/2004

Crazy flick but quite enjoyable. It looks like Wong Jing tried to squeeze some of the “Star” juice, as in LUCKY STARS by mixing in his trademarks (cute ladies, poking fun at top popular HK flicks) with the goofball humor from the LUCKY STARS films. All in all, the flick is quite stupid and not original as Wong Jing has recycled the same type of plot devices in his other late ‘80’s early ‘90’s flicks. Basically, this flick when broken down is about these three guys and their Boss who try their hardest to woo two beauties. Big Mouth Fat (Chow Yun Fat) gets Tung Tung (Maggie Cheung) and the rest of the stooges are left to fight over Man Chi (Cheung Lai Ping). The best part of the film is Wong Jing poking fun at other movies such as Sammo Hung’s HEART OF DRAGON and John Woo and Chow Yun Fat and his role in A BETTER TOMORROW. There’s even a Brother Ho in this flick who appears from time to time in the flick but you never see his face. Decent flick.