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Love and the City
Year: 1994 "She's got such pretty hair..."
Leon Lai admires Wu Chien-Lien
Director: Jeff Lau Chun-Wai
Cast: Leon Lai Ming, Wu Chien-Lien, Ng Man-Tat, Liz Kong Hei-Man
The Skinny: Hilariously overwrought but also strangely beguiling, this romantic drama pulls out all the stops to tell a silly, but affecting love story.
by Kozo:
     Overwrought romantic drama from Jeff Lau, a director who's more known for comedy. Leon Lai Wu, is a lifelong delinquent who is the shame of his father (Ng Man-Tat). After Wu is released from prison, he becomes smitten with his triad bossí girlfriend Jojo (Wu Chien-Lien). Though their connection is slight, he draws her attention and she returns that affection, however briefly. Despite all the normal rationalizations (i.e. he only knew her for a short time, he can find someone else, thereís really no point in pissing everyone off for this one girl, etc.), Wu decides that he truly loves her, and any and all obstacles are worthwhile if only she can be his. It goes without saying that IT ALL GOES TO HELL. 
     The whole plot is deliriously romantic to the point of distraction. Amazingly, the super-serious tone works and and even the cheapo synthesizer music from Lowell Lo is effective. Increasingly melodramatic and sometimes even ludicrous, this film is great if you buy it, but if you donít...youíre screwed! Jeff Lau directs the film with a sledgehammer, but he gets results. The beautiful Wu Chien-Lien is charming and Leon Lai is almost embarrassingly intense. Ng Man-Tat is perhaps the strongest as Wu's conflicted father, who shares a relationship with his son not unlike the one in A Rebel Without a Cause
     Love and the City reflects the same existentialism and missed chances that Wong Kar-Wai mined in Chungking Express, though Lau tells the story through a more straightforward narrative. The difference lies in the fact that Love and the City jettisons all subtext of identity, alienation, and belonging. Whatís left is syrupy beyond redemption, but damn if it doesnít work as a pure example of this HK genre. The emotions are so heightened that you could either be moved or alienated. This film is sap city, but if you make it to the end, chances are youíll like it. (Kozo 1995)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Ocean Shores Home Video
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of Ocean Shores Licensing, Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen