Reviewed by: ryan
Summary: Tender Heart (1999)
Though AIDS has been known about for over 10 years, it is still a low-profile topic in Hong Kong Cinema. Up to now we have only had Bobby AU-YEUNG Chun-wah and CHUNG Suk-wai's 'Fatal Encounter' (1994) for a movie with AIDS as its key issue. This year we have another movie about AIDS, 'Tender Heart,' starring LAM Kit-ying, who is back in film after Stephen CHOW's 'A Chinese Odyssey' series in 1995.
'Tender Heart' starts with two men, Simon CHOW (LAW Ka-ying) and Ricky (LAU Siu-kwan). Simon is a lawyer who is very resistant to AIDS patients. [Ryan, we might say 'very prejudiced against AIDS patients'] He is married to Cindy ( LAM Kit-ying) for over ten years, but is also having an affair with his officer secretary Elaine (Diana PANG Dan). Ricky is very loyal to his fiancee Monica. Once in the past, Simon took Ricky to Shuenzhen to have a fling with prositutes before Ricky got married. However, they found that the prostitute was an AIDS patient, and that they also had AIDs. The world seems to be treating them badly. Simon's wife doesn't want to see him, while Monica decides to break her engagement. Sadly, Monica finds that she is also infected with HIV. She has Ricky's baby. Simon, Monica, and Ricky have to face their personal disasters, and they have to help themselves for the days with AIDS ......
'Tender Heart' deals with the idea of AIDS and the pressure AIDS patients feel facing the world. The filmmakers probably would like to give audience a correct and positive idea towards AIDS. That's why they discuss some of the common misunderstandings about AIDS. In addition, they try to use different angles to present what AIDS patients think about themselves. I agree that there is a reason and value for a movie like that.
Unfortunately, a good idea means nothing if the presentation sucks. That is the main problem of 'Tender Heart'. Characters and dialogue are not presented well. The plot is strange. For example, when they try to show how bad the relationship Cindy and Simon is, they introduce a sudden quarrel between each other at home. The set up is very weird. In addition, LAM Kit-ying's dialogue in the movie is also weird. Even though this is the first movie she worked on after her mental problem, the dialogue should not be so weird. [Ryan, you might use 'strange' instead of weird three times. Also, you might want to explain LAM's mental problems for those of us who don't know them.]
Simon CHOW, a man who hates AIDS patients at first and then changes his attitudes when he get AIDS, should be a character with lots to present. However, the filmmakers just put up the most typical issues as the movie progresses. In addition, LAW Kar-ying overacts in the movie which makes his role extremely ridiculous. The movie would be much better if LAW Kar-ying acted naturally.
Throughout the movie, there are lots of monologues by Simon which act as footnotes. However, the strategy makes the whole movie boring as most of the concepts he talks about can be presented through drama.
For the purpose of giving positive messages about AIDS, the style here is too rigid. It looks like a hard sell, while the lines about the common misunderstandings of AIDS patients sound like recitations from books. Some of the ideas, like general contacts won't spread AIDS, are already understood by the general public. Such hard sell is irritating.