Sep 25, 2014

Review: Mou mei san taam [Loving You] (1995)

One of my favourite movies of all time is Running Out of Time, directed by Johnnie To. I just love it to death and it'll always stand as one of my favourites. I'll just start thinking about it sometimes and I'll get a big smile on my face. I could probably watch it every night for the rest of my life but then that would mean not seeing all the rest of To's movies which I desperately need to see.

Loving You is To's 19th film in his career but we're still pretty much in the earlier part of his career. Although 19 films is a lot, he had started doing a movie a year by the late 80's and has continued that pace until now. Not to mention that he produces films outside of the ones that he directs. The guy is a busy man, that's for sure.

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Genre: action, crime, drama
Directed by: Johnnie To
Produced by: Mona Fong
Written by: Nai-Hoi Yau
Music by: Chi Wing Chung
Running time: 84 minutes
Production company: Cosmopolitan Film Productions
Distributed by: N/A
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Ching Wan Lau, Carman Lee, Chung-Hua Tou, Chi-Shing Chiu, Yuet-Ming Chiu, Kwok-Ping Choi, Ping Han, Kwok-Kit Lam, Suet Lam, Tung-Ching Lau, Wai-Kai Law, Chung-Wai Lee, Patrick Leung, Ching Ting Lu, Man-Wai Luk, Yuk-Sing Ma, So Wai Nam, Jan-Fai Wong
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Synopsis


Lau (Ching Wan Lau) is a cop in Hong Kong who takes his job very seriously. He'll do whatever it takes to catch a certain drug dealer he's after, even if it means breaking the law. However, he's pretty much disliked by everyone. He's tough on other coworkers and he ignores his wife (Carman Lee) with all the time he puts in at his job. If he isn't working, mostly he's out drinking and sadly committing adultery. It's no surprise that his wife finally leaves him at the restaurant they had their first date in and announces that she's pregnant with another man's child.

Review


The script does a good job at exploring Lau's character in the beginning of the movie. He's a dick, pure and simple. As much as he's tough on everyone else, he's also really tough on himself. He drives himself to exhaustion and lives life without a care for anyone else or himself. There's no question that he's headed for a crash. He isn't likeable and isn't meant to be. (Spoilers) When he goes through his near-death experience, all that of course changes. He wants to be better and he desperately tries to be so he can win back his wife. (End Spoilers) I'm definitely a fan of the story as well as Ching Wan Lau's character. 

In terms of the cinematography, there are some pretty good instances that show Johnnie To's talent, but we're not quite there in terms of his peak. The camera is fluid and willing to move without compromising on what's meant to be shown. During some action sequences the camera is maybe a bit too hectic but it's all the same a pretty cool effect. (Spoilers) Towards the ending when there's the rescue attempt at the abandoned film studio, there's a pretty cool 90's Asian cinema thing going on with paper falling everywhere, some slow-motion but no, there aren't any doves to be found. I swear. (End Spoilers)

A big part of Loving You is the drama aspect when goes pretty deep into the romance category. Definitely deeper than I was expecting. On a whole it's relatively well done but does feel a bit cheesy at times. The worst of this though are the inclusion of a couple of romantic montages with English language pop music such as a cover version of To Love Somebody by the Bee Gees. I'll admit that I love the Bee Gees but the cheese is too strong during these scenes. A simple solution would have most likely been a change in music to something more local. There'd still be some traces of cheese but the situation would've been a whole lot better.

Ching Wan Lau gives a good performance in Loving You. His character is totally convincing and even though you don't really like him, you do of course end up rooting for him. LY is an early example of To's greatness to come as well as his fruitful partnership with Ching Wan Lau. Although there are some weaknesses in terms of the romantic elements, it's an easy film for Asian film fans to like. 

Rating


6.5/10