都市情緣 (1994)
Love and the City

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/28/2007
Summary: Flat out wonderful

How can a film with such sledgehammer direction be so good?

If ever I were to pick my top ten fave HK films, this would definitely be in it. Why ? Director Lau controls proceedings with a steel-grip. He drags the audience by the scruff of the neck, making it perfectly plain at every moment what you, the audience, should think and feel. He shamelessly presses every emotional hot-button imaginable. The result is a heart-in-the-mouth rollercoaster, an in-ya-face hyper-operatic romance which is completely irresistable. Keep a box of tissues handy, even if you fancy yourself a hardened film veteran.

The story, the main three characters and two of the main three actors were brazenly pinched from "A Moment Of Romance". The adorable Ng Sin Lin plays JoJo (as she did in AMOR), Ng Man-Tat changes from father figure (if a weak one) to father, and Leon Lai subs for Andy Lau as the angry outcast lad.

Despite the obvious theft, Love & The City substantially improves on its progenitor. The plot is really two stories interwoven. First, a father & son growing apart then finally coming to terms. Second, a story of two reckless young lovers. The first is the overarching one, and only when it's resolved is the second able to be fully dealt with.

Both are equally powerful (at times even shattering) and well-done, but I have to lean toward the father/son story as the most moving element. Ng Man-Tat is outstanding, and turns in the performance of his busy career as the sensitive widower whose boy at first disappoints then totally rejects him to lead a life of petty crime. We see numerous shots of Ng picking up the lad from prison, only to return, then be released. Despite the boy's lack of reaction, it is clear that he still loves the lad. Leon, who then takes over the narration, finds he's attracted to JoJo.

One problem : she's the fiancee of a local gang boss. Everything Leon does seems to be motivated by attraction to danger. She accepts his invitation to run away with him, and the boss sends his hoods to pursue. Then the first turning point : Leon is in the wrong place at the wrong time. A prostitute is murdered, and he gets the blame. With a rap sheet like his, no-one believes he's innocent. Certainly not the cops.

Even his father falls for it, as evidenced by a brilliant and torturous short scene where father and son face each other, exchanging a tense look with nothing to say. Leon breaks out and goes on the run. Will JoJo help him ? How can he clear his name when he refuses to even talk to the police ? Will he and JoJo ever get their expectations and feelings synchronized enough to really get together ?

It is this last question that the director hammers at and wrings out for all its worth, and tugs you this way/that way, will they/won't they for what seems like forever, keeping you guessing all the way to the end. In this genre, one or both of the lovers generally die a horrible death just before finally coming together. Will they in this one, or won't they ? You're kept guessing right up till the credits roll......

This is pure, brash cinematic magic. Don't miss it !

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Stardust
Date: 07/10/2002
Summary: For Die-Hard Fans Only

This movie was practically made for Leon Lai's and Wu Chien Lien's die-hard fans. If you don't belong in either category, you may mot have enjoyed it as much.

This movie tries to create both a love and a father-son relationship. The father-son storyline is well developed and Ng Man Tat has done a great job here portraying the long-suffering father. The love relationship starts off promising, then falls apart. Lai and Wu don't have enough screen time together, and when they start missing each other, the viewer wonders if it really is love.

After a while, the movie begins to drag, mainly because a large part of the movie focuses on Lai being framed for a crime not committed and his desperate need to see Wu. Just let them see each other already and end!!! The gossiping girls working for the phone/pager company was too much, and makes one wonder how much privacy is involved when you use your pager. Also, the ending involving them was unncessary.

Overall, Ng gave the best performance. Nothing new with Lai or Wu. This movie will be more acceptable for die-hard Lai and Wu fans.

Rating: 6.5/10

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

I have to say I was slightly disappointed by this movie. In essence, this film could have been called "A Moment of Romance 4" - it rehashes the same formula, young misunderstood hero in trouble with the rest of the world, meets and falls in love with beautiful girl, complications ensue, and in the end love transcends all...

In this case, the hero is played by Leon Lai, who portrays a troubled young man who spends more time in jail than out, and who can't communicate with his father (played by Ng Man-Tat). The whole movie consists of him getting arrested, chased, beaten up, falsely accused, betrayed etc. Meanwhile, he tries throughout the movie to meet with the character played by Wu Chien Lien - they met once for a couple of minutes and supposedly fell in love at first sight.

The problem here is that neither one of them is really fleshed out, and the whole love story really lacks any believability. You see them pining for each other, but you wonder why, given that they in fact never spent more than 5 minutes with each other and only communicate through a proxy (some operators at the paging company they both use).

I thought the concept of two lovers constantly missing each other in the city had some potential, but since the movie never bothered developing and showing the reasons for their attraction, I found myself not really caring.

The movie is quite slick and nice to look at, but I was thoroughly unimpressed. Watch Moment of Romance 1 instead for a better example of this type of film.

Reviewed by: Hongkie
Date: 10/21/2001
Summary: Not bad at all....

An above average romantic drama. The other reviews summarize it quite well. Ng Man-Tat really does give the best performance of the movie, and at times, it feels the actual love story is incidental to the father and son relationship.

But I love Ng Sin Lin, so who cares?

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

Hong Kong's teen idol Leon Lai plays a misunderstood juveniledelinquent accused of a crime he did not commit. A heartwrenching romantic melodrama mixed with the excitement of a fast-paced action thriller.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]

Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

Leon Lai plays a young man who comes home after being released from juvenile prison. His widower father (Ng Man-Tat) has pretty much given up on the boy, and worries that his son will disrupt his own relationship with a divorced mother of one. While nobody believes Leon can go straight, he finds inspiration in Ng Sin-Lin, a girl he falls for after one meeting in a disco. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is none too pleased with Leon's advances. What's more, the daughter of Ng Man-Tat's fiance is upset that Leon is not interested in her, and accuses Leon of raping her. On top of all this, Leon is suspected in the murder of a prostitute. At a time like this, Leon needs people to start believing in him for once in his life. It may sound depressing, and it certainly has moments of moodiness, but the focus of this movie is relationships and trust. Surprisingly, Leon pulls off his born-loser role pretty well. What's more shocking is that Ng Man-Tat actually acts, offering some real depth to his role as a father who must overcome his pessimism to form a real relationship with his son. This may be the only time I have actually enjoyed Ng Man-Tat's presence in a movie. There are enough fresh twists in this movie that I would place it well above other films from this genre.