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星月童話 (1999)
Moonlight Express

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 01/12/2010

Leslie Cheung demonstrates his star power in Moonlight Express. Bogged down with a silly and cliched story, and sporting a soundtrack that would make even Richard Marx cringe at its' cheesiness, at many times this film feels like little more than a glorified Lifetime movie starring whatever washed-up 1980's actor that needed beer money that week. But Leslie's coolness under the pressure of hogwash that the picture sometimes spews out elevates it into something that's at least worth checking out if you're a fan of his work.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 07/06/2006
Summary: Almost Good

This is three-quarters chick-flick romance and one-quarter crime drama, but the two elements aren't blended successfully. The crime drama element is very basic and uninspired (it's the old "undercover cop is suspected by his superiors of having turned triad," complete with a contrived resolution).

The romance part is pretty well done and very touching in places. In fact, the scene where the Japanese woman gets off the elevator and meets Leslis Cheung's second character for the first time was really powerful and struck me as a classic cinema moment. But I found the Japanese actress pretty one dimensional, even if she can shed tears and smile at the same time, and I didn't really care that much for her character.

Leslie never disappoints me and Michelle Yeoh is good in her short stretch; another reviewer suggested the movie would have been better with Michelle in the lead role and I agree.

The soundtrack is noticeable here, and that's probably not a good thing. At the very beginning, I liked it, but there was one sequence where they played a snippet of several different songs quickly together, as if they were just trying to squeeze stuff in so they could sell the soundtrack later. And someone (was it Leslie?) sings in English what sounds like a karaoke rendering of Elvis Presley (his style, not his music) over and over again till you want to jam chopsticks in your ears.

All in all an ok love story, a good selection if you're viewing with a girl friend or wife. Nothing to go out of your way for.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

HK/Japanese co-production starring Leslie Cheung and some Japanese girly actress I wasn't familiar with. Michelle Yeoh has an uncredited 10 minute cameo (and she looks stunning - if she'd been the lead actress, the movie may have been saved...).

This is a very nice looking movie with good production values that nevertheless feels a little schizophrenic. A younng Japanese girl loses her fiance in a car accident right after he proposed to her. She is struck by grief and decides to travel to HK where her late fiance (played by Leslie)worked as a hotel manager. Once there, she runs into a Hker called Karbo (also played by Leslie) who looks exactly like her dead lover. She develops a morbid attachment to him, trying to recreate a planned dream date with Karbo as substitute for the dead guy and soon romance blossoms again and she is awakened from her grief. This part of the movie plays like a sweet melancholic romance movie, but with some strange morbid undertones - after all, she's trying to perpetuate an affair with someone who's dead (shades of Vertigo...).
But the movie has another face as well: Karbo is actually an undercover cop, who gets framed and is on the run with lots of bad guys shooting at him all the time, so it's really not a good idea for him to spend time on romantic dates with cute but somewhat loopy Japanese girls who have a morbid fixation on dead guys...

The actors do a fine job working with the material they are given, the cinematography is competent and yet, the pieces never quite come together. It's like your watching two different movies: an action film, and a romance flick. Neither is that bad, but put together they never quite gel and form a cohesive whole. It's a shame, the story isn't bad...

The music deserves special mention: it's horrible. What is it with these sugary ballads? They're sung in English (don't know if Leslie was involved) and I found them totally annoying. Together with City of Glass and Phantom Lover, this is another film where the songs almost destroyed the movie for me...

Anyway, it's not a must see, but it has some good moments, and Leslie fans will probably enjoy it a lot more than me. So I'd give it a marginal recommendation.

Reviewed by: x40001
Date: 05/12/2001
Summary: Tut

will this new breed of hong kong directors stop ripping of wong-kar wai?

Reviewed by: a10
Date: 01/03/2001
Summary: If Daniel Lee ever reads this...

Very enjoyable movie, with particularly good performances from Leslie Cheung
and Takako Tokiwa. The movie rests squarely upon her shoulders, and she does admirably well.
Now for the caveat...I have to agree with a previous reviewer who had harsh words
for some of the songs in the movie. It has become a bit of a bore having to mention that a soundtrack should first and foremost serve the film it appears in, rather than
intrude so badly that it all but wrecks the flow of the story....rather like a tedious Disney exercise in formulaic fodder. The songs were so grating and obtrusive that
one was forced to wonder upon whose lap should the extreme lapse in good taste be
placed...because certainly, the rest of the film was a lot more sure footed in execution.
Not to be too down on Henry Lai, because the instrumental pieces, particularly the
'main' theme ( Hitomi's theme ), captured a proper balance of sweetness and melancholy...BUT the songs, particularly 'Flame In My Heart', both grated and embarrassed me. It was as if I had to re-live ABBA's 'english-as-a-second-language'
amateurish lyrics and diction all over again.
AND, as if to add further insult to injury, just as the last bits of the flashback coda
fade away, with the wonderful 'music box' theme just adding the right bit of sweetening to the whole scene and our senses lulled into the elegiac moment of their first meeting,we are jolted back into rude reality with the harsh bleatings of the 'song', when by any measure of good taste we should be allowed to savour the final few moments in relative silence. Rather like a bad case of coitus interruptus involving ice cubes , some cold metallic objects and a cattle prod.

Reviewed by: lordmanji
Date: 11/28/2000
Summary: A Modern Melancholy Fairytale

Moonlight Express is at its heart a touching love story, and specifically one of karmatic love, tied together by dreamy cinematography and wandering narrative.

The story begins unexpectedly with **SPOILER** the death of Hitomi's fiance, and so she travels to Hk like he had promised her to hit selected sites. Unbeknownst to her is a man who looks exactly like her fiance, by the name of Karbo. What happens next is a whirlwhind of dirty police underdealings and a budding love between Hitomi and Karbo. The theme/question is repeatedly raised whether or not Hitomi can love Karbo as his own man, and not just as a substitute for Tetsuoya, and also if Karbo will reduce himself to a replacement. The ending scene is filmed with a glossy, soft camera lens, invoking "dreamy faraway" images, and with the ending scene, **Possible Spoiler** Hitomi asks testingly, "what is your name?" And Karbo's answer is the resolution to the film, merely by stating his name.

Analysis of plot aside, the movie's gentle tone is woven with occasional bursts of energy, such as Hitomi's chase scene after Karbo, or Karbo's last stand at the police station. The overall tone of Moonlight Express is that of longing and fulfillment concerning love, and can be summed up in the image of the waves which Hitomi narrates carries Tetsuoya's soul.

And this is the lasting impression that ME leaves -- fulfilled experience, but longing for sequel.

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 08/22/2000
Summary: sad =*{ but in a good way =*}

You know, being the meatheaded action junkie that I am, I didn't think I'd like this one when I rented it one day. But it changed my mind right from the get go. Basically, a Japanese girl named Hitomi travels to HK to escape the mental anguish from a car accident that killed her fiancee Tetsuya (played in brief flashbacks by Leslie Cheung). However, once she comes to HK, she sees a man in black who is the spitting image of her late fiancee. This guy's name is Karbo (also played by Leslie, pretty intensely I might add). Karbo is a hard boiled, driven undercover cop in the middle of a police corruption case involving (surprise surprise) dealings with the mob. Hitomi is infatuated with Karbo, even though he continually shrugs her off, telling her he's not her fiancee. Until the day Karbo is implicated in the corruption case, and is on the run from both the police and the mob. He takes Hitomi on a little boat ride and pretends to be the husband that Hitomi never had. Even if just for a night. Really sad at times, and a really great heartfelt and kinda-naive performance by the Japanese girl who plays Hitomi (don't know her name, but she's a cutie). The only thing I didn't like about the film was about 3/4 of the way through, the story decided to shift almost exclusively to Karbo's side of the story, where he confronts the obligatory inside man who's behind the corruption, and all that. But Karbo and Hitomi have a very realistic looking (albeit reluctant for Karbo) relationship, where Hitomi tries to recapture the love she never got to receive from Tetsuya. Great date movie, with lots of heartfelt romance and unrequited love for all the ladies, and just enough suspense and even a little action to keep the guys awake. Personally, with all the new-wave Raver Triad ghost story Wong Kar-Wai wannabe crapfests out there, this is one new movie that I really loved. Yeah. I said "loved". You want a piece of this?? >=)

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/14/2000

I won't bore you by telling you AGAIN what's the movie is about but i knew little about this film and i was blown away!! The acting is great, the locations also and i was suprised to see Michelle Yeoh in it too!!

I wa very moved watching this!! I dont' like this type of genre since i hate getting depressed or sad. (Why would i purposely put myself through that!!)

If the ending of the CRIME part of the movie was done with a bit more originality or at least let us understand the bad guys psyche a little more (i think that would of helped!!) would of made this film complete!! Would of gotten more points of me anyway.......

A great film to watch with your boyfriend/girlfriend!! And maybe bring a tissue or 2.........


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: morgold
Date: 01/29/2000

I saw this film the way I really like to see a film--without any prior knowledge, without having read any plot summaries, and with only a cursory knowledge of the cast and director. Thus, I would have few preconceptions, and I can try to enjoy it "fresh." Nevertheless, I am still slightly disappointed in the film, even though I went into it with no prejudices.

Not that it isn't well made, because it is--these days Leslie Cheung wouldn't be caught dead in anything less than an A-level production. But the story--a woman's husband dies in a car crash, but when she meets his doppleganger (Cheung in dual roles) she tries to delusionally fall in love with him, as a substitute for her late husband--seems too familiar. The film touches on themes of irretrievable loss and tries to psychologize the transience of romance (especially ill-fated ones), but the film has an air of "deja vu" about it.

The idea of the double, or doppleganger, has a very long history in film (as it does in literature), going back at least to the 1912 German film "The Student of Prague." Since then, we have seen Hitchcock ("Vertigo"), Bergman ("Persona"), de Palma ("Body Double"), Roeg ("Performance"), Louis Malle ("Spirits of the Dead," from Poe) and recently Stanley Kwan ("Hold You Tight"), among about a hundred others, exploit this idea. Indeed, I think the sway that "Vertigo" still holds over filmmakers today is remarkable. But what I fear is that this idea has exhausted its basic possibilities, and "Moonlight Express"'s variations on the theme are old hat--and are actually less revelatory than "Vertigo" itself.

As Leslie Cheung's character is doubled, so is the film's plot, as it attempts to balance both the doppleganger-love story and a more conventional plot about how Cheung's character (the "double"), an undercover cop, is being framed by forces within the police. The two plots mesh oddly at times, and the female lead behaves unbelievably (even to someone like me, who doesn't care for realism) when she calmly accepts the fact that the "double" she has fallen in love with thrusts her unexpectedly into a shootout. The cop-movie stuff here actually only makes the "existential" love story more conventional, and I wonder if there could have been a fresher way of complicating the love story rather than having it be attached to and freighted with familiar cop-heroics.

The director, Daniel Lee, also displayed a penchant for incongruous subplots in his earlier "Til Death Do Us Part" (1997), which featured a surprisingly bloody action scene which was entirely tangential to its psychological profile of domestic madness. This incongruity forces us to question the conventionality of the film--is the director intentionally attempting to subvert standards of realism by combining the incongruous conventions of different genres? In the case of "Moonlight," the different genres would be 'romance' and 'crime/action', and rather than try to seemlessly synthesize the two, director Lee goes out of his way to show where the film's 2 different generic inspirations don't mesh, and contrast each other. HK movies often mix genres, but when it does so it is usually action and comedy, with no attempt to hybridize them seemlessly as do Hollywood films. In both "Til Death" and "Moonlight", director Lee's mixing of psychology and action is something quite different, however.

I can applaud this idea, but I am no sure how successfully Lee pulls it off. His earlier "What Price Survival" (1994) was stronger perhaps because it created its own consistent yet individual style, rather than cobbling together borrowed elements of conventional styles. I also have to say that there are about 4 or 5 especially rancid English-language song montages (in addition to the usual Cantopop) which seriously fracture an already disassociated narrative. Perhaps without the intrusion of these songs, we could better piece together the story--as it is, the songs only alienated me further. I think the songs here are analogous to scenes in "Til Death..." in which director Lee abandoned the straightforwardness of his story for sequences of obvious, MTV-ish camerawork; in both cases, the intrusion of directorial "style" impedes rather than facilitates comprehension of the film. Some films are made or broken by their music, and "Moonlight" (like Johnnie To's "Loving You") comes fearfully close to the latter.

All in all, there is still good stuff here, and Lee is certainly a director to keep an eye on, for at least he has some ideas. But the film never quite reconciles its own double personality.

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Moonlight Express (1999)

With the beginning of the Easter holiday, movies for the Easter are opening now. This year we have only two Hong Kong movies -- 'Prince Charming' and 'Moonlight Express'. This time we will start it with 'Moonlight Express'. Probably the main promotion is the combination of Leslie CHEUNG Kwok-wong and Tokaka Tokiwa.

The story of 'Moonlight Express' starts with Hitomo (Tokako Tokiwa) who has lost her boyfriend Tetosuya (Leslie CHEUNG Kwok-wing) who is going to marry her during a crash. Subsequently she went to Hong Kong to prepared the affair after the death. While she was in the hotel, we met SHEK Kar-bo (Leslie CHEUNG Kwok-wing), an undercover cop who is now following a case of drugs with head KAM. They met in a sudden. Due the not ending dream of Hitomo, she tends to get back her feelings with Tetosuya from Kar-bo and they started this fate love. On the other hand, Kar-bo is being trapped by his boss and subsequently becomes a suspect. He would like to clear all his issues to get back his real life.

The main selling point of the movie is the love story between Leslie CHEUNG and Tokako Tokiwa. If you expect from such issue, I am glad to tell you that 'Moonlight Express' has done its assignment for such aspect. The script is about to describle the love between real and virtual. I consider Tokako Tokiwa should also be commended for making the feeling and the tone of the whole movie in a bit Japanese style which helps for the establishment of the feeling between real and virtual.

The plot is designed by putting both Hitomo and Tetosuya who have been lost their another lovely half and how they get back themselves from being lost. This is also a good topic to make the feelings easier to be presented as you will be a bit impressed by their backgroud even with a simple description.

Some of the scenes are quite impressive. For example, the plot describing Kar-bo promised Hitomo's request by acting as Tetosuya for a day. The description of that day is well-designed. The photography makes you feel it virtual while the ending of the day makes you get the mixed feeling.

Another good point of the movie is the trial for putting another element as undercover cop in addition to the romantic love story. The trial is good as it can give audience some excitment. Though the ending of the movie can be improved a bit to make it more sensible, the trial helps for adding values to the movie.

One of the main point you may wish to note is the cinematography of the movie is very cool. The making use of color, black-and-white and stills are also making the movie with variety of visual effects. This suits for the need of the movie to make the legend more fruitful.

In terms of performance, I consider Tokako Tokiwa should be the most attractive one in the whole movie with cute character. From the movie you can also see Tokako Tokiwa is also putting lots of efforts for her Cantonese. For Leslie CHEUNG, I consider his performance is also good. One point I would like to point out is the performance of LIU Kai-chi is very impressive by acting as the boss of SHEK Kar-bo. His character makes you feel that he has done a good job.

On the whole, 'Moonlight Express' is a movie which can describe the interim between real and virtual of love while the perforamnce of actors and actress makes the movie well done. Together with the cool cinematography, it should be a good choice for this Easter holiday!