All About Ah Long (1989)

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 04/04/2006
Summary: Gentle Chow

The great Chow shows off a gentler side here. True, he's a bit rough with his ten year old son, who's been with him since his wife left for the US shortly after his birth, but the lad idolises his humble construction-worker dad. Chow is also a former great motorbike racer who gave it up as too dangerous when he had the little boy to take care of, but still keeps in touch with his old trainer, Ng Man Tat. His wife (Sylvia Chang) waltzes back into his life, wanting to spend more time with the son .... or so it seems.

True, strong similarities with Kramer vs Kramer, but siginificant differences too. The father/son relationship is totally different, as is the direction of the story in the second half and the resolution.

I found this film too slow and rather flat, and the combination of working-class Chow with power-dressing Chang implausible. Nor did there seem to be much spark between the estranged husband and wife. Only the father/son stuff was emotionally convincing, but somehow it didn't seem enough. It gives away nothing to say that there's a sad ending, as we know all along that only one of the couple can have the son, but the way it's done is just too melodramatic.

Overall : a yawn.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: cpardo
Date: 07/13/2005
Summary: Great drama--hidden meaning?

It was so amazing seeing Chow play it straight in this film. I liked his acting a lot in Prison on Fire, but seeing him be sensitive and weep openly here solidifies his acting expertise. I like the rest of the cast too, who also put in great dramatic performances: Sylvia Chang, newcomer Wong kwun-yuen, and Ng Man-tat, who's usually seen in comedies. It's a very interesting and moving story full of ups, downs, humor and tragedy. As for the ending, some say it has multiple meanings as if it works on some arthouse level. Or is it just Ah Long's fate, destiny, luck--it seems to played straight for what it is. Anyway a very thoughtful film and performance that won Chow a HK film award.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 01/25/2003

Uneven and over-the-top "All about Ah Long" is a culture specific romance picture that may not resonate with non-Chinese audiences. The leads (Chow Yun-fat and Sylvia Chang) are fine but the script is hard to swallow from an empathetic point of view.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/30/2002
Summary: Great drama, fantastic acting

A really solid piece of direction from Johnnie To, and marvelous performances from Chow Yun Fat, Sylvia Chang and especially the young kid. From a story that Chow and Chang wrote together apparently, so they must have invested quite a lot of themselves in the production (which has very high values all around).

Just a shame about the utterly spurious and unnecessary ending - could certainly have been concluded much better.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/27/2002
Summary: Way over the top

I don't want to have to put this down like this, but it's simply way over the top and very unrealistic. It's a heavy drama, and I mean heavy, and just like most of the dramas to come out of Hong Kong is very unrealistic and too far fetched.

Some people would get upset watching it, but if you think about it all logically when you watch it, you are more likly to laugh.

To me, the story is not too bad, but too many circumstances and way over the top acting just drags it down to lower levels for me. A bit less acting and this could have been pretty good.

Rating: 2.5/5

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 02/12/2002

Chow Yun-Fat is best known to his Western fans for his double-gun antics in movies such as A Better Tomorrow. However, he (like many other Hong Kong actors) is well-versed in just about every genre and appreciates storytelling rather than pyrotechnics. So, taking this into account, it comes as no surprise that once Chow hit it big in the film industry, he pushed this movie -- with its emphasis on relationships rather than bloodshed -- forward. The story of All About Ah-Long has been compared many times to the US movie Kramer Vs. Kramer; basically, it is a tale of two divorced parents (Chow and Chang) who both want custody of their child (Wong).

I'm not going to lie to you -- this movie is as melodramatic as they come and there's no "action" to speak of -- but it had me hooked, mostly due to the output of the actors. Of course, one always expects good work from Chow and he certainly delivers here, but the film's real cornerstone is Wong Kwan Yuen. I normally detest child actors in movies, but Wong delivers a pleasant, and (more importantly) "real" performance. It's far beyond anything that "Pepsi girl" Hallie Kate Eisenberg or her counterparts could perform, and that it makes this movie much more believable as a whole, and much more enjoyable to watch than similar films from both sides of the ocean. And, yes, there is a fatalistic finale involving one of the stars that will most likely make you get out the Kleenex. It's the kind of ending that only Hong Kong films would deliver, and reminds you why you started watching them in the first place.

If you want to see what Chow Yun-Fat can do besides blast the hell out of people, this is an excellent place to start.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: VEry moving

OH a ending where you'll cry your head off!! Great performances from everybody!! I won't say more since there are plenty of reviews but i tell you it's a tear jerker!!


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: GenXcops_Jack
Date: 05/06/2001
Summary: a classic, the standard to which others will be measured

superb acting of behalf of chow yun fat. a touching story and a good script. direction and production levels are very high. story telling and charactor development was key and performed very well. this movie is a true classic and i recommend this movie to everyone, hopefully after they see a movie like this they can finally realize pieces of junk garbage like Gen-Y cops, OMG that movie sucked! everything from ripping off the style of other movies and the pittfully horrible acting sucked NUTZ!!! please burn the master copy of that move!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reviewed by: meixner
Date: 08/30/2000
Summary: Superior domestic drama

Ah-Long (Chow) has raised his son Porky since he was released from prison 8 years ago. When Porky's mother Por-Por (Chang) returns to HK, she unknowingly recruits 10 year old Porky for an ad campaign, when she meets Ah-Long and learns about Porky, she wants him back.

Above average weepy, enlivened by a good script, solid characters, and good acting, very good for its type. I liked it more than Kramer vs. Kramer.

Reviewed by: hellboy
Date: 08/30/2000

A heartrending melodrama mostly about a father and son relationship. The plot also focuses on the redemption of Chow's title character and his reconciliation with the mother of his child. The ending comes totally out of left field. 7/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

A heart-wrenching family saga which follows the life of Ah Long(CHOW YUN FAT) A former gang member, we see Ah Long through imprisonment, separation from his well-to-do wife and the eventual--but tragic--reunion with his son and the woman he loves.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A great melodrama obviously inspired by "KRAMER VS KRAMER". I would have some difficulty to decide which one is better. I guess that "KRAMER..." is a more important film if you put it side to side with most of the american tears-jerker of that time, but if you put those two side-to-side, then I would have to say that "ALL ABOUT AH-LONG" is the best one. To a certain point, I must say that this version is more "realistic". There is a certain ambiguity in this film (regarding the characterization for instance) that was not present in his american counterpart. Anyway, if you have plenty of kleenex close by then this film is for you! Was nominated for 8 Hong-Kong awards.

[Reviewed by Martin Sauvageau]