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
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)