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ժ (1992)

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/19/2007
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

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/18/2007

Rose (aka Blue Valentine) is a decent little Triad drama with some romance mixed in. It's nothing that hasn't been done before, but it gets pretty far on the likability of its' two stars, Maggie Cheung and Roy Cheung.

In the movie, Maggie plays an insurance saleswoman who is determined to get some big clients after she finds out she's pregnant. While meeting with a client, Roy scares away the customer, but then promises to make it up to her by buying a policy for himself.

During their negotiation, Roy is attacked by some rival Triads (I guess buying insurance could only be this exciting in a Hong Kong film), and then nursed back to health by Maggie. As you might guess, a relationship begins to develop - but will it last?

Like I said before, there's nothing all that special about Rose. The story is your usual Hong Kong "doomed romance" tale ala the Moment of Romance films. The mise-en-scene is very workmanlike and nothing to write home about.

Acting-wise, besides the leads, it's straight down the middle. Even Michael Wong is thankfully dubbed over, so we don't get the "pleasure" of hearing his Chinglish.

Really, the only thing of note here is director Samson Chiu's smoking fetish. It's pretty much a given that characters in Hong Kong movies, especially Triad pictures, tend to smoke like chimneys. But Rose takes things to a whole new level.

Almost every shot of Maggie Cheung has her lovingly puffing on a cancer stick. As if the symbolism wasn't clear enough, there's a whole scene where Maggie lovingly strokes her cigarette while she talks about how smoking has replaced romance in her life. Freud would have a field day with that little revelation.

At any rate, even though is not Maggie Cheung's best work by a long shot, it's still enjoyable enough to warrant a viewing. A word of warning, though - of you're expecting a straight romantic "get the kleenex" movie, keep in mind that this is still a Triad film, and, as such, there are some extremely violent bits.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 04/01/2002
Summary: I think both reviews below are right!

Script wasn't so good and Roy just didn't shine in this one.Maggie is fine but the film doesn't make you care much about them considering the downbeat ending. Fairly Good is a stretch..

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 12/09/1999

Another excellent performance by Maggie Cheung in a genre-mixing experiment: Samson Chiu almost pulls off the most unlikely mix: a Roy Cheung violent gangster flick cum Maggie Cheung sensitive romance. The best scenes are the most implausible: Roy and Maggie together, acting in the *same* scenes, falling in love!

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Sullen insurance agent Maggie Cheung reluctantly rescues atriad goon suffering from hatchet wounds (Roy Cheung), and thus begins their slow-burn romance. In a superfluous sub-plot, a sodden girlfriend (Veronica Yip) nearly commits suicide for loneliness, and there's lots of other padding relating to cats, knives, and pork chops. Roy dies, Veronica remains alone (fat chance!), and Maggie gets pregnant.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 3