Rose (1992)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-07-19
Summary: For Maggie Cheung fans only
As “Rose” plods along to its inevitable and not particularly exciting ending the viewer is relieved that Samson Chiu Leung-Chun didn’t waste his best asset, Maggie Cheung. She was onscreen for almost every scene. Whenever triad tough guys were not slashing each other to death the camera was on her and she showed up at the end of many of those scenes. Her legion of fans may well ignore the glacial pace, enormous plot holes, long periods of time which were no more than filler and even the Michael Wong, especially since his screen time was only a couple of minutes. This was Maggie’s movie--Roy Cheung was OK as her love interest, punching bag and cook but it was a one note part. She had a meaty role and dug into it with gusto. She breaks up with her lout of a fiancé while the credits are rolling, gets caught in the middle of a triad battle to the death and nurses a wounded gangster back to health, has a couple of excruciatingly melodramatic scenes with her mother and gets knocked around quite a bit. There are plenty of screen filling close-ups, a not explicit in the least but still very steamy sex scene, even a shot of her sitting on the toilet (fully clothed) while smoking and talking to her cat. Maggie lights up constantly and delivers a particularly inane couple of lines on the joys and satisfactions of cigarette smoking.

The most outrageous scene takes place between Rose and her mother. In the type of fast end effective exposition that happens only in Hong Kong movies, where it is almost an art form in itself, the audience is given the complete background of Rose and her family. The outrageous part is when mom tells Rose that Mom made the right decision when she was pregnant—she got married to a wealthy man who had the good manners to die young.
Rose didn’t bat an eye at this, even though the guy who died so conveniently was her father. It is as if she says “It was really nice of Dad to die before I got to know him—he must have been a swell guy.” Rose is also portrayed as a terrific insurance sales rep using every trick in the book to sign a prospect and looking great while doing it.

One of the main image patterns in “Rose” is pork chop rice. Maggie and Roy spent the second half of the movie cooking it, eating it and feeding it to the cat. A PDF file with the recipe for it would not have been amiss as a supplement. As far as what all this cooking meant, realizing that sometimes a pork chop is just a pork chop, the screenwriter might have been trying to show how Roy was becoming more human under Maggie’s influence. He may have been using it as a metaphor for the trial and error progress of a love affair as two people advance toward and withdraw from intimacy. Or he may simply have been hungry.

The other overused image is a cat. Actually a few cats but mainly the black and white feline that serves as Maggie’s friend, confidant and conscience. She is compared with a cat by Roy, a comparison that is underlined by some clumsy crosscutting between her face (each shot filling more of the screen than the last) and shots of the cat. It doesn’t work very well because Maggie shows more anger with each cut while the cat simply sits there and looks at the camera—another reason not to work with animals, they often don’t take direction well.

There are plenty of gorily violent fights, scenes that showed that killing someone with a knife or a broken bottle is much more personal than using a gun, plus a salutary lesson on where to sit when dining at a restaurant in an area of triad conflict. The rule is to avoid sitting near a window no matter how enticing the view may be since the chances are good that the bloody corpse of a gang member loyal to you will be splattered against the glass sometime before dessert is served.

In addition to Michael Wong, Wu Fung, Yiu Wai and Henry Fong Ping have extended cameos while the roles for Norman Chu, Chan Fai-Hung and Chik King-Man are of the “blink and you miss it” variety. Veronica Yip did a credible job in a terribly written part.

So, this one is for those of us who will put up with a lot in order to see Maggie Cheung do anything although we might have been just as well served with a couple of hours of her miming the phone book. But it supplies a lot of Maggie doing a lot of acting and is recommended for that reason only.
Reviewer Score: 5