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天若有情 (1990)
A Moment of Romance

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 10/30/2010

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 07/05/2010

Denim clad rascal on a crotch rocket Wah Dee (Andy Lau) is chosen as the getaway driver for a jewelry heist doomed by convention to fail and when it does Wah takes a wealthy college student (Taiwanese actress Wu Chien Lien in a star making role) hostage in order for the gang to make their escape posthaste.

To the shock of perhaps everyone involved once clear of the authorities Wah simply returns his captive to her residence ultimately causing more chaos than the actual robbery.

By turns "A Moment of Romance" is hackneyed and mawkish; the film might have made for Hong Kong's most expensively produced karaoke video with the good girl falling for the bad boy paradox set to Fabio Carli and Lau Dai-yau's mellow tunes. But writer James Yuen lends the film a sense of brutal realism: Lau's Wah Dee is a boy raised by wolves and whether he finds love or not he is first and foremost married to the streets that raised him and he will eventually die on them as he lived.

The film's unpretentious nature is perhaps why this occasionally gooey Stockholm Syndrome romance; occasionally visceral triad drama has withstood two decades of competition, imitation (not the least from its own producers), and parody.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/30/2007

“A Moment of Romance” has a script that might have been assembled by a guy with a clipboard and a list and not really written although it is credited to James Yuen Sai-Sang. With such A+ list personnel as Wong Jing and Johnny To in the planning (!) department it wouldn’t have been difficult. You can almost see it happening: “Let’s see, we have a handsome anti-hero, a gorgeous kidnap victim, an obsessed cop and a godfather who will be meeting his ancestors soon. We just need a righteous triad underboss who always backs up his little brothers, a sleazy triad guy who wants to take over before the old man is in the ground, clueless parents for the beautiful girl and a zany but loveable trio of aging whores who were and still are foster mothers to the anti-hero. Some explosions, car chases, motorcycle stunts and knife attacks will do for the action. Just before the final credits (at the 87 minute mark) make sure we have a hyper-romantic ending that will have the ladies in the audience crying.”

“OK—we have everything on my list—let’s go.”

Constructing a movie from off the shelf parts doesn’t mean it will be a bad movie—but the chances of making a good movie are pretty low and “A Moment of Romance” falls right in the middle. It is a mediocre effort with some high points: Andy Lau at his movie star hottest, the sublimely beautiful Wu Chien Lien in her first movie role, shot while she was still a college student, a very effective and possibly even original car chase at the start of the film which fits perfectly into the plot and searing portrait of decency and loyalty under pressure by Jue Tit-Woh.

These are diamonds in the rough, however, and the rough is just that. Beautiful though she was, Wu Chien Lien probably couldn’t act in 1990, although since she wasn’t tasked with anything beyond responding to cues, hitting her mark and looking lovely it is hard to tell. Her characters journey, from wealthy young lady about to emigrate to the victim of a kidnapping by a triad tough guy to a determined and tough rebel, all while dodging the police and a triad hit squad, would have taxed most actresses. She simply moved through the role which was all that could be expected.

Andy Lau played Wah Dee as a triad guy who is surprised when he finds a spark of humanity realizing that he can’t simply execute Jo Jo. The problem with Wah Dee is that he was all but indestructible. While it is a given in Hong Kong movies that both heroes and villains can suffer enough punishment to kill ten lesser men, Wah has at least one resurrection too many. He goes to bed having been stabbed in the gut and beaten with clubs, bleeding and his face cut to pieces. He wakes up the next morning looking...well, looking like Andy Lau just rising from a good nights sleep. This regenerative ability makes the beatings that he gets seem much less dire—he keeps coming back without a scratch or scar so they must not be that bad.

The lyrical interludes that show the growing love between Jo Jo and Wah Dee are backed by syrupy Cantopop ballads. They last much too long and occur much too often. Trumpet isn’t a very well realized villain—he is a punk with no class, as uncharismatic a criminal leader as one could find. To be effective a bad guy needs to be energetic, to have an edge—to be perversely attractive even though we acknowledge he is evil. As Trumpet, Tommy Wong is more annoying than anything else. Ng Man-Tat’s Rambo was simply on the screen for too long—an interesting character who wore out his welcome after we saw his unchanging act a few times. Jo Jo’s parents were badly drawn caricatures; Mom worried more about the new house in Canada than her daughter, Dad completely under her thumb. Wah’s three foster mothers, all of them aging hookers with hearts of gold were incongruous—their parts could have been cut completely without losing anything.

The first car chase was very well planned and executed. It showed that Wah was a brave and resourceful triad soldier and an outstanding driver and was actually interesting enough to keep my attention, not something that car chases generally do.

By no means terrible but not really recommended.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/19/2003

Okay, Overrated, and Dull movie about the usual romance between the rich girl and the poor guy. It's about as unconvincing as it gets.


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

This is the movie that made Wu Chien Lien a star in Hong Kong. A Johnny To-directed effort (who went on to become her manager, and subsequently used her to great effect and cast against type in some of the early Milkyway films), this is a well-made tragic romance starring Andy Lau Tak-Wah as a motorcycle-riding bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who meets and falls for a rich girl played by Wu Chien Lien. It's been a few years since I watched this, so I don't quite remember all the plot twists, but I do recommend this one if you like this type of movie and don't mind the heavy melodramatic overtones.

BTW, Johnny To spoofed this movie at the end of the recent film Needing You, when Andy Lau is rescued by the bike-riding character he played in AMOR 1.

Reviewed by: mehaul
Date: 07/04/2001

Andy Lau is a gang member and Wu Chien-lin is a beautiful rich girl who fall in love. Excellent chemistry between the stars as well as "cool" motorcycle scenes. The lovers battle his fellow gang members and her rich parents. Fair action. 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/09/2000

This movie is a fairly standard rich girl/poor boy romance mixed with a healthy dose of heroic bloodshed. It stars Wu Chien-Lien (looking very young) as the rich girl and Andy Lau as the triad boy. They fall in love but obviously it can't work out.

While nothing too amazing, this is a decently entertaining film. One particular stand-out was Ng Man-Tat's interesting performance as a street person. It appears that he was formerly a gangster but that he left the triads because of his cowardice. Ng Man-Tat is surprisingly restrained (for him) and I particularly enjoyed those scenes that he was in. Other points of interest are some good scenes between Wu Chien-Lien and Andy Lau. Unfortunately, Wu Chien-Lien isn't given much of a character to work with so she doesn't shine the way I know that she can (see Eighteen Springs and Beyond Hypothermia.

Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

Director Benny Chan pulls out all the melodramatic stops in thisextremely popular story of a bad boy who falls in love with a rich girl. This movie set the stage for a score of imitations and shot Ng Sin-Lin to stardom. Although the movie is fairly routine by today's standards, you might want to check it out just to see what the other movies were copying.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

My favourite HK film. Director Benny Chan chooses music, melodrama and big visuals to tell the story. It works because it is a conciously chosen cinematic style and used without fear and with all available means. The superb cast all deliver perfect performances to compliment. The criminally undermentioned performance comes from Tommy Wong as the ruthless "Trumpet". His perfect understatement makes a mockery of western actors 'method' psycotic acting, twitches and all. He shows a good understanding that, in a well written film, the events and actions of the character will inform and not how loud you shout or how 'wacky' you act. Well judged indeed, how often have we seen panto performances for similar roles.

[Reviewed by Andrew Best]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A surprising gem that reaches the highest standard of genre storytelling, pushing its limits into the realm of true art, that which challenges AND moves its viewer. It may be Andy Lau Tuk-wah's best role to date. The plot involves gangster Lau's affair with a young rich girl. The melodrama however, quickly reveals itself as the profile of a man desperate to salvage the last scrap of his own moral code. The foolish but romantic character of the upperclass teenaged May is best seen as the flesh and blood manifestation of Lau's secret wish for a clean, happy life that he can never have. She represents his own moral potential that could never have flowered in a life devoid of family love and filled instead with poverty, corruption and desperation. Rising just enough above his fellow gangsters to know that he has missed something precious, he recognizes his own lost innocence in the young girl he has taken hostage. His gang brothers demand that he kill her. But, unable to overcome the last vestige of decency left in him. He lets her go instead. This choice, this one act of honor has profound unforseeable consequences for his life and his character. This film delivers hard boiled action, a fragile love story and and a pithy character study for Lau. It explores the personal cost of embracing moral action, the responsibilbities of caring and ultimately asks what defines a worthy life. What more can one ask from a film? Often overlooked by US fans, this film is comparable to Scorcese's and Coppola's early genre artistry. More inimate and more moving than "Mean Streets" or "the Godfather," its use of genre structure to explore the broader issues of human experience puts it in the same league. Don't miss this one.

[Reviewed by Cynthia Rhae Woodard Perry]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

It is definitely one of Andy' s best film. Was nominated for 4 Hong Kong awards (Ng Man-tat won for Best Supporting Actor)

[Reviewed by Martin Sauvageau]