Hold You Tight (1998)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2010-11-15
Summary: Doesn't work on any level
In "Hold You Tight" love is where you find it, whether in the arms of an alcoholic bisexual lifeguard/bartender, in a steamy semi-public gay bathhouse or even, shockingly enough, in the marital bed with one's spouse. Some of the characters drift through life while others hustle but no one seems to get what they want--or even know what they want. It would be a limited festival/arthouse entry if not for the drawing power of Chingmy Yau simulating sex. Faux copulation is one of the least exciting parts of any movie in which it shows up and "Hold You Tight" is not different from most in that regard.

This was the last movie role for Chingmy Yau and her participation was rewarded with one of the several nominations for the Hong Kong Movie Awards of 1999. She deserved that nomination for one scene in which she used chopsticks to shovel a LOT of noodles into her mouth while maintaining a running dialog, not a skill to be taken lightly. This really wasn't her type of movie though--she was a good comic actress and did well in roles that made use of her attractiveness, her sex-bomb persona and her comic timing. As Rosa she is sexiest when dancing--and she is not a good dancer.

The movie begins unpromisingly with Moon, a driven international executive and unfaithful spouse losing her temper when her Filipina maid/nanny can't produce her tickets and passport at the airport. While Moon shouts at the nanny we see Rosa pass by on her way to the gate for the same flight. Since both are played by Chingmy Yau the audience is immediately (if fleetingly) engaged with them. This happens under the credits. The next scene features Eric Tsang having anonymous although satisfying sex while watching pornographic videos in a men-only sauna.

The gimmick casting of Chingmy Yau in a double role created expectations that Stanly Kwan was unable to fulfill. She had some effective scenes, particularly with the distinctive looking Ke Yu-Luen, although the sex scene in the stopped elevator is not one of them. Ke's Dou Jie is a much more energetic and interesting character, whether as pursuing and capturing Moon or stalking and being frustrated by Fung Wai. Sunny Chan Kam-Hung has a great role and does a good job with it--plenty of anguish, despair and tentative reaching out lets him pull lout all the histrionic stops. Eric Tsang's Tong is simply too good to be true. He is a property salesman who counsels potential clients not to sell if they don't really want to, a man who picks up the vulnerable Fung at a bar only so he can drive him safely home, St. Francis Assisi as 20th century gay Chinese man who goes through life being helpful and kind to others. Or perhaps, given his rotundity, a modern incarnation of the Buddha showing true simplicity and love.

The plot of "Hold You Tight" is unimportant--easy to follow even with multiple flashbacks and compressed and stretched time--the characters are only sporadically interesting and it has nothing new to say about the various social, sexual and friendly relationships that are both a burden and a joy for people everywhere. One hopes that Stanley Kwan accomplished what he intended with this movie although it doesn't repay the effort of the audience to figure in out
Reviewer Score: 4