City of Glass (1998)

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: Kyashan
Date: 12/27/2002
Summary: Sweet movie

This is one of more sweet movie I never watched. The story of Raphael and Vivian , since they met until they dead, is a communion of love and sweetness. I liked very much this movie, is one of my favourite and I advise anyone with a sweet heart to watch it. I loved maintheme too, "Try to remember" is really a sweet song.

The road home was first, City of Glass is second at my eyes like romance chinese movie.
Ranting 10/10

Reviewed by: Stardust
Date: 07/10/2002
Summary: Could Have Been So Much Better

This seemed like a promising movie, but it ran out of gas in less than 10 minutes. I don't know if it's the characters or the screenplay that caused this disappointment.

Leon Lai and Shu Qi dies at the very beginning (don't need me to spoil it, the movie does it quite well). Flashbacks are shown about their secret affair,(the movie spoils that fact in the beginning too). When the viewers are told they die together, it also killed their storyline, a very bad move by the filmmakers. The only thing left to keep viewers watching is the children they had with different partners. Daniel Wu and Nicola Chueng were relatively new, but their performances were acceptable. Actually better than Leon and Shu Qi (but then again, it could've been the screenplay's fault).

Now comes the real criticism: lots of mumbling by the actors/actresses, Leon and Shu Qi doesn't get old (they look the same when they're 18 and 40), one of the storyline is killed in the first 5 minutes, the supporting cast is better to watch than the main characters (a big problem),and on and on.

Honestly, the movie could have been so much better. The basis is nicely set up: a pair of college sweethearts and their ups and downs as they grow older. The scenery of the university is quite nice. The title is good, the themesong is good. So what went wrong? The movie turned into a drag and viewers would more likely get annoyed and bored rather than teary. I'm sure there are many viewers who can think of a better storyline than this.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Could have been a classic

This movie has a great plot, a great story, great directing and production, and an outstanding soundtrack. HOWEVER, the acting and the cast as a whole was terrible. Leon Lai & Shu Qi are terrible. On their own they might not be so bad most of the time, but in this movie everything about them just seems to unrealistic.

It's a real shame, because this movie could have been a classic of it's time, but personally, I think the main chacters should have been played by someone like Anita Yuen and Lau Ching Wan, they would have made a much better job of it. If the Shu Qi & Leon Lai were not in it, I would have given this at least a 4 out of 5 I think.

Rating (out of 5): 2.5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

I know many people who like this movie, but I found it rather disappointing. Perhaps I've watched too many Mabel Cheung movies lately, but this one felt so syrupy and overly melodramatic that I had a hard time refraining from using the fast forward button.
Perhaps it was the music, in particular the excruciatingly sweet "Try to remember" song that kept playing. Perhaps it was the poor casting choices (Shu Qi as a 40-year old?), but I just couldn't get into the love story. I actually thought the parallel story of the children was more entertaining than the main storyline. In any case, it's certainly a pretty film to look at, as are most of Mabel Cheung's movies, but I just couldn't get into it at all.

Reviewed by: Sheolong
Date: 12/20/2001
Summary: A for cinematography

I would say that overall I was dissappointed with this lift, partially because i had very high standards for it. I think the story between Leon and Hsu Chi should have been more interesting and stronger considering how important the film makes it to be. The art direction is stunningly beautiful, which is mostly a good thing, but it also makes you realize that the story and actors weren't as strong as they should have been. Also, the music was quite over-the-top and put together with the dramatic cinematography, it all seems a bit gimicky. However, I felt sad when the movie wanted me to feel sad, even though I wasn't sure what I was feeling sad about. Not to say that that wasn't a good ide, don't get me wrong, I do like sappy romantic tearjerkers once in a while. I just felt that other elements should have been brought up to that level so you fully understand and feel the impact. One of the strongest points of this movie was the story between the son and daughter. It all had a very nostalgic feeling about it. However, the Leon and Hsu Chi story was not as well done. THey weren't bad, but I felt somewhat removed from them. And I thought it was quite amusing to see Hsu Chi portrayed as a woman in her 40s, when she looked the same as she did in her teens. That's mostly it. i'd give it a B.

Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/15/2001
Summary: city of glass

I saw this film… unfortunately. Leon Lai and Shu Qi together is a good picture, but laughable during the “young period” scenes. (Leon Lai’s make up! Aaaargh!)
Usual love story that pretend to be more that it actually is.

Reviewed by: xiaoka
Date: 05/10/2001
Summary: Cheesy, yet I love it

Sometimes in a sappy, hackneyed romantic cliched film a perfect balance is struck and somehow it all just works.

For me, City of Glass was one of these rare occurences.

Despite some really, really horrendous English dialogue ("Hong Kong My ASS!"), an unbelievable timeline (Hsu Qi and Leon don't hardly age a day between 20 and 50...) and a finale you can see a mile away, I just really ended up enjoying this movie.

(And you'll be singing 'Try to Remember That Kind of September' for the next month)

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: emerald
Date: 02/04/2001
Summary: Good photography and a beautiful love story, but the performances are weak

City of Glass is a beautiful love story with lovely scenic cinemtaphotography, but I was disappointed with the cast and their performances. Both of the leads are too young, especially Shu Qi, who is supposed to be playing a woman in her 40s. The challenge in this movie for the actors was to express the never-ending love between Raphael and Vivien, from their university days into their 40s. But I don't feel much of that being expressed, especially not their sadness and struggles. I think this film would have been better with a different cast. Chow Yun-Fat and Maggie Cheung or Carina Lau would have been much better.

I also found it strange is that the two main characters never discuss divorce. Why not? They never discuss why they want to get together or how to deal with their existing relationships. Furthermore, there are few scenes between them and their respective spouses, which makes me wonder that why they got married with other people at all. Vivian's situation I could understand. But why did Raphael got married?

Overall, I feel sad that such a big budget and good photography was wasted on this cast.

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

City of Glass may well be the last film released from the UFO (United Filmmaker's Organization) studio, and I was hoping
they would go out with a bang, perhaps even topping UFO's best film (and one of my all-time favorites), Lost and Found. City
of Glass is not quite the massive bang I would have hoped for, although it has its share of small explosions.

The story of City of Glass is fairly straightforward. At the beginning of the film, a couple (Leon Lai and Hsu Chi) gets into a
fatal car accident in London. As it turns out, these two were not married to each other, though they were married and both
have adult children. These children, Susie and David (Nicola Cheung and ?) go to London to claim the bodies and discover
that this couple had a house that they owned together in Hong Kong. In going to this house, they begin to discover the story
behind their parents' relationship, as well as forming one themselves.

Raphael (Leon Lai) and Vivian (Hsu Chi) fell in love while in college. However, as so often happens (at least in films) they are
separated and they end up marrying other people. Years later, they encounter each other and begin an affair that continues
until their death.

The film is almost entirely flashback. As their children explore the house and the grounds of Hong Kong University (where
Raphael and Vivian met and Susie currently attends) the film slips back to the past to show scenes in the lives of Raphael
and Vivian. These transitions work quite well, being both graceful and artistic.

However, since so much of the film focuses on Raphael and Vivian, the scenes featuring Susie and David, meant to show the
development of their relationship, get shortchanged. The film needed to take either more or less time with these two. As it
is, we are meant to get involved with their story but this is difficult because they are so obviously just being used as
transitional material. Had they been in the film less this would have been made more obvious and therefore less intrusive.
Had they been in the film more their story could have been developed. There are several good scenes between them but
these two characters never developed enough to capture my attention. One particular strange aspect of this lack of
development is that the scenes between them are largely missing any sense of grief over their loss, despite the fact that both
of them have just lost a parent.

City of Glass has many great moments. Some of the scenes are just perfect, particularly a kiss in the rain and a beautiful
scene of two airplanes flying over Hong Kong. In addition, both Leon Lai and Hsu Chi are getting better as actors. Hsu Chi
can convey a lot with a simple half-smile or sideways look (although I've noticed that she uses these same expressions in
most of her films) and the looks and glances that are so often exchanged between Raphael and Vivian are perfect in their
restraint. There are some great moments of humor that are both amusing and touching sprinkled throughout the film.

The nature of the relationship at the center of City of Glass is ambiguous. It could be argued that this relationship exists
primarily in the past, in Raphael and Vivian's memories of their youth and their first love. The house they share is filled with
artifacts of their past, and I couldn't help wondering what that meant. This ambiguity is one of the film's most interesting
aspects. Though the film is fairly straightforward in its romanticism, I'd like to think that the writer also intended us to
consider the possibility that this romance is just an attempt to reach back to a past that is already gone. To me, there was a
certain disturbing undertone to some of their scenes together, particularly the one where they are furnishing their house
together with relics of their college days.

Unfortunately, City of Glass also has its flaws. Foremost among these is the horrid music written for the film. It is intrusive
and manipulative, often obscuring the power of the moment with its syrupy tones. It seems that Hong Kong may be learning
a bit too much from Hollywood. The film is often too predictable and could have benefited from a few surprises. And the
ending takes the easy way out, which is unfortunate because given the material that the film deals with (history, love, death,
fidelity, etc.), it could have been more powerful.

One of the most interesting aspects of this film is that it is a tragedy with a happy ending. The tragedy comes at the
beginning, with Rapahel and Vivian's deaths. But by the end of the film, we have seen how happy they were together, and
that they were truly in love. In addition, their children have fallen in love. This dichotomy between the tragic and uplifting
aspects of the film is moving, and almost as importantly, it is different, which makes the film more intriguing and engaging.

Despite the fact that this film was not perfect, I have thought about it quite a bit since I've seen it. Its unusual mix of
tragedy, humor, and love story managed to worm its way into my skull.