Moment of Romance, A (1990)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Director: Benny Chan
Producer: Johnny To
Writer: James Yuen Sai-Sang
Action Director: Yuen Bun

Cast: Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Wu Chien-Lien (Ng Sin-Lin), Ng Man-Tat, Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung, Leung Shan, Lau Kong, Sandra Lang, Wong Sa-Lei, Wong Man-Wai, Yuen Bun

Running Time: 88 min.

Plot: Wah Dee (Andy Lau) is just another small-time punk, an orphan dragged up on the mean streets of Hong Kong. A loner, he handles cars and bikes like a racing champion, and is enlisted by psychotic Triad leader Trumpet (Tommy Wong) as the getaway driver for a heist that goes horribly wrong. To keep the police off his trail, Wah Dee takes a girl named Jo Jo (Wu Chien Lien) hostage. Fearing that she will betray them, Trumpet orders her executed, forcing Wah Dee to sever his allegiance with the gang by defending her. The only daughter of wealthy parents, Jo Jo is drawn to Wah Dee’s lawless lifestyle, while he, cast in the unfamiliar role of protector, discovers in her an innocence that he himself has lost long ago. On the run, hunted by both sides of the law, their desperate love is doomed from the start.

Believe me, it’s only just a moment. Andy Lau stars, giving his best performance as a small-fry loner in the triad society of the 80s. When a robbery he’s part of goes bad, Andy takes a hostage, whispy, hardly-even-there Wu Chien Lien. Andy defends her from the rest of the gang, who wants her dead since she can recognize them all. Yet the young girl deliberately throws the police lineup Andy and the other gang members are in. Seems she finds Andy attractive. This matters very little to the gang, which tries now to kill Andy and the girl. Andy takes her on the lam with him. They go off to Macau or someplace and live together for a few days before her rich parents sequester her once again. Andy, meanwhile, returns to Hong Kong to find his big brother murdered. He can’t let this stand, and yet, defending his gang’s honor will probably mean his own death. He and Wu Chien Lien go out cruising the streets of Hong Kong, where they have that one-brief-moment-of-actual-romance before Andy gets killed, leaving Wu Chien Lien running down the highway in a wedding dress looking for him.

The film is bleak, sad, and beautiful, in a mournful way. It’s probably the least glamorous star vehicle Andy has had (save maybe the very similar As Tears Go By), and in its portrayal of ordinary people hemmed-in by their environments, the movie succeeds rather mightily.

Director Benny Chan later went on to a career of hackwork, doing a couple of sequels to this, as well as Tsui Hark’s Magic Crane and later doing a really good cop movie, Big Bullet. Producer Johnny To has grown over the years to be one of the primary movers and shakers in Hong Kong cinema, and executive producer Ringo Lam (at least partially responsible for the bleak realism of this movie) remains an iconoclast, one of the most fiercly individual filmmakers in Hong Kong.

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