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Where a Good Man Goes
Chinese: 再見阿郎
Lau Ching-Wan
Year: 1999
Director: Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Patrick Yau Tat-Chi
Producer: Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Wai Ka-Fai
Writer: Yau Nai-Hoi, Milkyway Creative Team
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Lam Suet, Ai Wai, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, Law Wing-Cheong, Wong Wah-Ho
The Skinny: Flawed but engaging, this drama from Milky Way Films is affecting despite its exposition overload and stock characters.
by Kozo:

Latest in the Milky Way canon is their definition of warm and fuzzy. The title harks back to Johnnie Toís overwrought All About Ah-Long as both are about immature men who find a means of growing up. Thatís where the similarities end. 

Lau Ching-Wan is Michael (wordplay on Dai Gor or Big Brother), a debt-collecting triad who checks into the small International Hotel the night after his release from jail. His first act is to get into a fight with three cabbies whereupon he gets dragged off by the cops. The hotelís proprietor, widow June (Ruby Wong), engineers his release as he was not the aggressor - the cabbies were. Ah Long goes free and such begins the slow burn romance between ex-con and widowed mother. Despite his uncouth and violent nature, Ah Long take a shine to the emotionally distant June and her son Tony. 

However, his adversaries are not so quick to let him go. The cops and cabbies gang up on Ah Long, trying to exact their revenge or prejudice on him one way or another. Itís not entirely undeserved; Ah Long is a typically defiant triad, and we grow to learn that itís all he knows. Jail is home to him, and he intends on living his life there if he doesnít get killed first. For some reason something in the International Hotel changes him. He finds a sense of family and responsibility, and if you havenít heard this plot before then you really should see more movies. 

The tale of gangster who tries to go straight is a tried and true movie clichť. Itís practically a genre itself, which is appropriate because the guys at Milky Way make genre their business. This is an excellent production highlighted by effective performances. Lau Ching-Wan brings his typical charisma to the staple character of Ah-Long. Itís not a terribly subtle performance, but it gets the job done. Ruby Wong doesnít do much more than refuse to smile, but she brings a quiet dignity to June. 

However, this film wouldnít be getting any praise if it werenít for the direction from Johnnie To and Patrick Yau. This is a drama, but their pacing and construction bring a light quality to the proceedings. Somewhat akin to Yauís The Odd One Dies, Where a Good Man Goes works best when it asks us to understand the characters through their actions, or sometimes their inaction. 

Thereís a lot of dialogue, though. This is probably the most talky of all Milky Wayís productions - meaning that weíre treated to the hows and whys by filmís end. Itís satisfactory, but the verbalizing undermines the drama. Still, this is a film worth watching for its sense of humanity amid the triad underworld. Besides, it manages to deliver on that rarest of events: a Milky Way production with a happy ending. (Kozo 1999)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen