Promising director Alan Mak's newest film is a definite
change of pace. Final Romance is nothing like
his entertaining and stylish A War Named Desire
and Rave Fever. No, this is a youth weepie featuring
pretty people and manufactured pathos. It's a beautifully
produced film, but so devoid of any real weight that
it becomes an immediate afterthought.
Edison Chen stars as a slacker
mechanic who travels to Japan with his buddy Sam Lee.
It seems Edison's brother was once in love with a girl
who he met in Japan, but his untimely passing made the
union impossible. Edison goes in his place, and meets
up with the girl's sister Amanda Strang and her friend
Cindy Au. It seems the girl also died, so only Amanda
and Edison are left to pick up the pieces.
Sparks immediately fly as nobody
really gets along, but circumstances arise that provide
the expected romantic situations. Unfortunately, Amanda
is also sick as she has a bum ticker. And her dad (Simon
Yam) expressly disapproves of Edison just as he disapproved
of Edison's brother. Why? Well, these guys are working
class stiffs who must make ends meet by changing tires
and giving smog checks. Amanda and her deceased sister
are rich princesses who are promised to better (i.e.
richer) suitors. And besides, what tension would exist
if we didn't have these age old Romeo and Juliet
clichés to help us along?
At this point, reviewing the
film for its narrative prowess would be useless because
let's face it: this is a movie for fourteen year-old
girls and their fourteen year-old boyfriends. Edison
Chen and Amanda Strang qualify as the pretty idols and
Sam Lee and Cindy Au are the requisite best friends.
Chen's acting is better than in Gen-Y Cops, and
Strang is pretty but bland. Lee and Au are funny and
unobtrusive. And really, that's all the target audience
for this film requires.
One would hope that Alan Mak
would follow up his promising earlier pictures with
edgier material, but he decided to go with this canned
teen romance. That's really the film's biggest flaw:
that it takes a couple of great character actors (Simon
Yam and Sam Lee) and a talented director and wastes
their talent and our time with something that would
be advertised in "Tiger Beat" magazine.
Final Romance isn't a good film, but saying that it's truly awful
would be like saying The Care Bears was an awful
television show. The Care Bears served its target
audience well; it had bears that cared, and little kids
loved those little hearts on their stomachs. The same
is true for Final Romance, but instead of bears
with hearts we get Edison Chen. And hopefully our money
back. (Kozo 2001)