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想飛 (2002)
Princess D

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 02/20/2009

Long-time readers of this site would probably guess that romantic movies aren't exactly my cup of tea, and they'd be right. Most of the pablum that passes for "good" romantic films are like torture to the soul for your friendly neighborhood semi-drunken reviewer. You couldn't pay me or offer sexual favors exceedingly large enough to actually sit down and watch twaddle like He's Not That Into You. Well, maybe you could, but I think you get my point, dear reader.

So, keeping that in mind, contain your shock while I tell you that I actually enjoyed Princess D. Oh, did I mention that one of the stars is none other than Hong Kong Film Net's favorite whipping boy, Edison Chen, and I still enjoyed it? Yeah, I know, your mind just got like totally blown, man.

Anyway, getting on to the actual review, in Princess D, Daniel Wu plays Joker, a computer geek who works for an internet games company. His current project is to come up with a female model for their new game, which he finds in Ling (Angelica Lee), a bartender from the wrong side of the tracks. But Joker's company wants to go with more of a Lara Croft-type, and so he quits, moving his offices into his dad's (Anthony Wong) dance studio.

Ling doesn't want to work for Joker at first, because she needs to keep bartending and selling drugs so she can support her family. But Joker's brother, Kid (Edison Chen), convinces her otherwise. As you might guess, Joker and Ling eventually fall for each other. However, as this is a Hong Kong production where things are often turned topsy-turvy, the question if they will live happily ever after is left up in the air until the final reel. Let's just say the final results might just have you reaching for a hanky.

Art-house favorite writer and director Sylvia Chang (along with her partner Alan Yuen) have, with Princess D, taken what should, for all intents and purposes, be your standard cutie teeny-bopper date movie material and made it into something compelling. Much attention was paid upon this film's release on its' use of CGI, which was state-of-the art for Hong Kong at the time.

The computer tweaking hasn't aged all that well, though, particularly when it comes to the end scenes which use a fully digitized version of Angelica Lee. It might have wowed people at the time, but, honestly, even the cheap games you can donwload on a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 are capable of much better-looking and more convincing stuff nowadays.

Thankfully, Chang and Yuen keep most of the emphasis of Princess D on the characters, not flowery computer graphics. The movie's main strength comes from its' quieter moments, whether it's Ling and Joker's dad bonding over a cup of coffee, Joker attempting to play mahjong with Ling's mentally ill mother (Pat Ha), or Kid awkwardly trying to close the deal with his internet chat "girlfriend" in a seedy pay-by-the-hour motel.

Yes, that's right, Princess D is a movie where you actually don't want to punch Edison Chen. Sylvia Chang must be some kind of miracle worker. At the very least, she has enough smarts to not fall prey to many of the cliches of the genre, like having a slow-motion montage of footage playing while a Cantopop ballad blares in the background. And for that, I thank you, Ms. Chang.

If there is fault to be found with Princess D, it's in the fact that perhaps Chang and Yuen tried a bit too hard, and matters become a bit bloated as a result. While I enjoyed the supporting characters, after the film ends, one gets the feeling that the picture as a whole would have better served by concentrating more on Joker and Ling's relationship. Despite this, Princess D ultimately does succeed in what it sets out to do -- tell a tale of love and romance (and the sometimes resulting loss and despair) in the internet age -- and comes recommended not just for fans of romantic weepies, but for movies as a whole.

Notes: this review is based on the Mega Star DVD, which contains ten minutes of footage not seen in the theatrical cut. Also, there is a Japanese TV series called Princess Princess D that has no relation to this film.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 11/16/2006
Summary: oh. i'm just a fly...

the wonderful sylvia chang, writes and directs, along with alan yuen; together they create a rather unexpected hong kong drama.

joker (daniel wu) is a computer programmer. he works for a software house who are developing a female character to star in a games and averts; he is not a fan of the pixel perfect creation and sets out to produce something with a bit more life, depth and reality. when he meets ling (angelica lee), he finds his muse, even if she is intially reluctant to have anything to do with him. ling works in a club, selling drugs on the side, to pay for the debts that her wannabe gangster brother has accumulated, her father is in prison and her mother is suffering from an alzheimers like illness.

joker's father (anthony wong) runs a dance school and hhis brother, kid (edison chen), is a young courier, although he actually doesn't really seem to take any interest in his job. when joker's company reject his idea for an aspirational, rags to riches, 'princess d' character, he quits, assembling a team to work on the character. all the time he is falling in love with ling, ling is getting deeper into trouble as a result of her brother's debts...

daniel wu, who i always seem to like, is good, as is angelica lee. edison chen, anthony wong and pat ha (ling's mother) are also very good. i'd say that chang and yuen must take a lot of credit for this; their script and direction gets subtle, rich performances from their actors. they also manage to employ cgi in a very restrained, yet effective fashion, especially during the nightclub scene, which is followed by a triad battle in a back alley, that a drugged up daniel wu stumbles in to.

different stuff for hong kong. good stuff though...

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/27/2003
Summary: Pretty good

A love story is what this movie is about if you couldn't tell from the trailer!!

I think Paul Fox has said lots so i shall keep it brief!!

Everyone does well in their parts but Edison Chans character is very annoying to me. He is like a lost little boy and i guess that is part of the plot.

CGI is used to good use here unlike other movies.

The chemistry between the 2 leading cast members is highly likeable. But this maybe a spoiler but it's pretty tear jerking at the end
I am not sure if others will like it but i did but Edison chans character was someone i would despise in real life!!

One of the better movies in 2002 and worth watching


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: i am b
Date: 01/06/2003

Daniel Wu is slightly dorky yet likeable in this movie; Edison is cute but doesnt seem to do much.

The romance that blossoms between Joker and Ling is sweet and i wish they ended up together in the end because they had good chemistry..speaking of the end, i felt very unsatisfied because it didnt feel like the movie should have been over when it ended. Edison's little monologue at the end tries to hard to have a deep, philosophical meaning even tho its slightly true.

overall, it's an average movie with good actors that should have been thrown in a better film.

Reviewed by: happygolucky76
Date: 06/14/2002
Summary: Cool

This is one of the CG movies from Hong Kong that actually has a good solid storyline to back up the hype. At first viewing, it seemed boring and slow at times, but it is only trying to realistic and not tag on a nice ending like a lot of movie these days.

Daniel' performance as Joker is an big improvement and shows he has real potential as an actor. He shows emotion and is just plain sweet in this role. Daniel does well in dramatic roles then in funny roles, but this one showed a little of both.

Angelica's acting in this film should give her a push in her career that she deserves. I actually felt sorry she (Ling) had to go through so much at a young age without any help from anyone.

Edison's performance is somehwhat a mix bag for me. For one, he is immature, lazyass funny-loving money-hungry little brother, but that is what the role calls for. But at the same time, this role does not seem to far from his own personality. At least he matures slightly through the film and he isn't a total lost.

The side stories which include Ling's mom and brother, and joker's father is a nice break from the main storyline. The saddest moment I remember is when ling is taking a family photo w/ her mom and bro, and her mom ask her where is her father? What happens next is what tears me apart. It happens fast so missing it will miss a big part of Ling's Mom's storyline. Joker's dad storyline is just a simple but nice b/c he just wants to dance with the perfect partner.

The Main storyline at first seems only all about Joker making a video game based on Ling's image, which may seem boring, but it gets complex with the love that grows between them and the in the end they can't be together.

In the end the video game is a representation of the relationship of Joker and Ling. Both brought each other from their own small dark world and opened them up to new possiblities and dreams.

8.5/10 stars

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 06/14/2002
Summary: One of the Best of 2002

Many Hong Kong filmmakers can learn a thing or two about using computer graphics from Sylvia Chang and Alan Yuen's "Princess D." Chang and Yuen not only directed, they also wrote the script, which grounds many of the CG effects to the plot about a computer game designer (Dan Wu) who uses a girl from the street (Angelica Lee) as his muse.

You come away from the movie not thinking that it was a CG affair, but a film that uses CG as a tool to enhance the love story between Wu and Lee. There were no clichéd "show-off" shots, usually done to display the marvels of CG technology by circling and panning around characters, standing in front of a blue screen, with little or no reason other than to say to viewers that the filmmakers spent a lot of money at some graphics house. Just watch the Andrew Lau film "Avenging Fist" (or any other Lau film that features CG) and you'll understand. Chang and Yuen made the CG an intrinsic element to plot. For example, when Wu unknowingly ingests a couple of hits of evil-e, after meeting Lee, he hallucinates in the middle of a gang rumble, which leads to a stunning CG scene, choreographed by Tung Wai. Otherwise, the directors don't over-emphasize or use the CG to weigh the film down.

Most importantly, Chang and Yuen are able to get a laudable performance from Lee and tone down over-emoter Edison Chen. For some reason, Wu's acting range seems to have narrowed instead of widened since "Purple Storm," in which Wu gave his best outing to date. Lee over-shadows Wu, whose vacuous emotion and inertia bog the film down during the middle, while Anthony Wong gives a wonderfully understated performance as Wu and Chen's father.

I thought the film would end during the penultimate scene, but a superfluous scene seemed to be tacked on. The overall tone of yearning and desire that goes unfulfilled was slightly compromised with the last scene. That minor grumbling aside, "Princess D" contains some fully realized drama, not witnessed in any other Hong Kong film this year, as exemplified in the scene where Lee treks from Hong Kong to the mainland. Lee's portrayal is both absorbing and gut wrenching at the same time. Directors Chang and Yuen demonstrate what can be done when you have a solid script and build around it using CG as support. The filmmakers' wise choices make "Princess D" one of the best movies out of Hong Kong in 2002.

Reviewed by: reelcool
Date: 06/13/2002
Summary: Hope in HK with Princess

I am usually taking "jabs" at the HK filmmakers for making nothing but "clones" of the "hit" movies, like "Needing You", by "Johnny To". "Princess D", actually a departure from the "Sammi-type" movies, is a breath of fresh air. The Directors/ Writers, "Sylvia Chang" and "Yuen Gam Lun", did a good job overall dealing with CGI, action choreography, art design, and acting. Only the story lacked focus, and made it kind of boring, but not completely boring, because the acting was good. "Daniel Wu" (Joker), who is lucky enough to be one of those actors to actually be "learning on the job", is really becoming "IT". You can really see the character he is playing on his face, which means he is paying attention to details, and is serious about acting, unlike most HK wannabe actors - this guy's for real. New comer, "Angelica Lee" (Princess D/ Ling), is not bad for a debut performance, but only time will tell with her. As for "Edison Chen" (Kid), this guy has to be the son of some powerful HK producer, because there is really no reason why he should be in this or any movie.

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 06/10/2002

Despite the rather slick looking trailer with its heavy use of CGI, this is actually a rather low-key, character-driven movie. Daniel Wu plays a computer programmer working on a computer game featuring a digital character (female, of course) - he dislikes his company's approach (stitching together what the geeks believe is the perfect female) and when he runs into a plain-looking but feisty bartender Ling (Angelica Lee Sin Je), he proposes to use her as the Cybergirl model. When he gets turned down, he quits and starts his own company, using Ling as the model. Ling, on the other hand, is facing some problems of her own, with her father in jail, and her pushing E at the place she works at night to get money for some loansharks who are after her.

After a promising start that sort of seemed reminscent of recent films like Mabel Cheung's Beijing Rocks, the movie starts to meander in all kinds of directions, and soon the muddled storyline completely peters out. It never really becomes clear why Daniel Wu is so fascinated with Ling, or how she feels about the whole thing. The movie throws a few high-concept lines at the viewer (stuff about chasing your dreams etc), but all this talk about Princess Diana/Dream/Digital, about chasing dreams no matter what reality you live in feels rather hollow and doesn't enrich the storyline or the characters in any meaningful way.

Lots of sideplots drag the storyline down further: Ling's mother is somewhat delusional yet she dreams of emigrating. Daniel Wu's brother (Edison Chan) dreams of meeting a girl he has been flirting with on ICQ, and their dance instructor father (Anthony Wong) dreams of getting some dance videos made. We never quite know what Daniel is dreaming of - selling his computer game? Romancing Ling? The love story, which should be what carries this film along, feels passionless and random.

That being said, Sylvia Chang's direction is quite engaging, with at times beautiful cinematography and some really wonderful moments (Ling and Joker on a bicycle riding through HK at night). Too bad these wonderful moments never quite gel into a meaningful whole. I did enjoy watching the film, but constantly felt that something was missing and that this movie could have been so much more.

One last comment: The last few years have seen a number of films trying to reinvigorate action choreography by blending it with CGI effects. In most cases, I found those attempts to be less than satisfying. However, Princess d proved to me that it is possible to do this in a compelling manner: There's a brief scene at the beginning of the film where Ling and Joker leave the club through the backdoor and land in the middle of some sort of triad gang fight. Joker is high on E and the scene is shot from his perspective - Sylvia Chang did a fantastic job here, and this brief scene blows away anything Andrew Lau has attempted by its sheer force of visual imagination and sense of rhythm and pace. Breathtaking!

Reviewed by: lemoncola
Date: 05/28/2002
Summary: Fantasy + Reality = Princess D

Princess D is a fantasy/reality movie which stars Daniel Wu, Edison Chen, and newcomer Angelica Lee.

This movie is about every individual in society having a dream.

Daniel Wu (Joker) and Edison Chen (Kid) are brothers, they live with their father who is a dance instructor (Anthony Wong). Joker is a serious computer game designer. He wants to create a cyber-girl which resembles more closely to a real girl. He feels the cyber-girls which are created by other designers are exaggerated: big boobs, big butt, teeny tiny waste, extremely long arms and long legs. He feels this type looks kind of weird.
Kid is his younger brother who likes to sleep, sing karaoke, hang out. He is very immature. He wants to meet a person by the name of Lovely who he met in icq.

Ling (Angelica Lee) is a bartender at night and she is trying to keep her family together. Her younger brother is a triad member and her father is in jail. Her mother is somewhat mentally ill. Ling is trying to pay off their family's debts and wants to live a normal life. Also, she has a dream to fly and to be free with nothing to worry about.

Princess-D, Princess Digital, Princess Dream. When Joker sees Ling, he sees his dream and his new inspiration. He feels Ling is his Princess-D and is perfect for his cyber-girl creation and begins to design the computer game.
He feels the real ordinary girl is beautiful. To him this is what a perfect girl is, someone who is natural.

The performances by the actors were really wonderful and I felt they had very good on-screen chemistry. Daniel and Edison really looked like brothers. Also the chemistry between Daniel and Angelica is very natural and very sweet. For a newcomer, Angelica gave a really good performance as a girl who is frustrated and deeply sad about her home situation, yet she is strong and will do anything to keep the family together. She gives off a feeling of maturity and is graceful.

The movie uses some really good computer graphic design, I was quite impress with the combination of fantasy and reality, especially in the beginning of the movie where there is a gang war and Ling and Joker are running, they fall and it looks like they are suspended in space, floating, only the two of them together. It is scary and yet romantic at the same time. The combination of fantasy and reality, the use of computer generated animations and putting Joker and Ling, is the depiction of what is going through Joker's mind because he drank the booze which was spiked with drugs. This sequence is very dream-like and looks confusing, which is how Joker is feeling.

This movie has several stories, therefore it might be confusing for some people. I recommend audience members to watch this movie twice.

It is a really good movie, and is very unique from the regular HK movies.

Princess D gets an A.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 05/26/2002
Summary: Good

I was very surprised when I finally saw this yesterday, I had held back for ages because I had the impression it would bore the hell out of me. I'm glad I finally gave it a chance, because I found it highly enjoyable. The special effects are of top quality too, so if you like CGI stuff then that's a good reason to watch this for a start. Though the story does get very stupid, but it's bareable.

Check it out, I think most people would enjoy it.


Reviewed by: sum_azn_gurl
Date: 05/19/2002
Summary: Good...

Princess D is a pretty good movie but theres something missing. For starters, they need to separate between fantasy and fiction. It was confusing in the first 5 mins but developed later in the movie. After watching this movie, i would have to say i would've prefered another ending.

Joker ( Daniel Wu ): Joker is a Game designer who is determined to make his new game "Princess D", a success. He falls in love with Ling and in the end, well, see for yourself

Ling ( Angelica ???): Ling is a character who sells dope at rave parties. In the beginning she acted like a person who could really kick ass, but this personality fades as the movie progresses. She is this strong person who supports her sick mom and troublesome brother while her dads in jail. In the end she becomes more vulnerable. Overall, her character in my opinion was well played but lacked something i just cant put my finger on.

Kid (Edison Chen): He is a guy who spends his time sleeping and on ICQ. He meets the gurl named lovely and they start going out. In this one scene they make him so perverted but that fades away as the scene draws to a near.

Overall, it was a well played movie with some cool special effects. I highly recommend it. Who knows? Maybe you'll like it better then i did.

Overall: 4/5

Reviewed by: Sum Azn Gurl

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Paul Fox
Date: 04/14/2002
Summary: Princess-d Flies Off With the Plot

Princess-d is the latest highly anticipated film from actress turned director Sylvia Chang. Her direction combined with the teen heartthrob star power of Daniel Wu and Edison Chen the film might be deemed an almost certain success. Almost… The title "Seung Fei" bears a meaning of desiring to fly. In some ways to have freedom to go, to be free to fly after your dream is the central theme of the film.

The film's strong point lies in its rich development of interesting characters. Daniel Wu plays Joker, a graphic artist working at developing cyber girls for computer games and interactive demos. Angelica Lee, in her second big screen performance, stars as Ling a young girl living life in the dark side of Hong Kong trying to resolve the sins left by her father and created by her brother. Ling's strong personality (along with a bit of an acid trip) gives Joker the inspiration he needs to develop his new cybergirl. Edison Chen plays Kid, Jokers younger brother whose only enjoyment in life is playing ICQ and sleeping. Anthony Wong gives a cameo as the boys' father, who teaches ballroom dance in their studio apartment.

But all of these rather interesting portrayals are soon lost in a rather muddled storyline. Joker's fascination with both Ling and Princess-d seems to be trying to emerge at certain points, but this conflict is never really expressed. Does he really love Ling or only her representation of Princess-d? Ling, living in a world of raves and drugs, seeks to escape the environment she is in and serves as the guardian for her mother and brother, but it seems she is seeking to escape from more than just debts of the past but from Hong Kong itself (a common theme among young people these days). Kid is looking for his ICQ friend Lovely, but when he meets her, he finds it is not what he expected. In today's modern era of online friends, this plotline could have been developed even further than it is here. The film's point (as is given in a brief statement at the end) is that everyone should have a dream to chase even if these dreams cannot always be attained. Unfortunately the interesting points that the film brings up are never as fully developed as they could have been and the more interesting characters of the film, such as the Joker's father and Ling's mother, are dealt with the least.

The film features a great deal of CG for the Princess-d sequences (and a few others). This is no Final Fantasy, but some of the sequences are quite beautiful. For the most part however many of these are mere eye candy and have no real bearing on the storyline. These visuals along with the strong performances ultimately save the film and keep it entertaining, but don't expect to fly out of your seat.

Overall review rating - 3 (out of 5)

Review by Paul Fox

Location: AMC Festival Walk

Time: Thursday 28 March 2002 9:35pm