Director: Patrick Kong
Cast: Carina Lau, Simon Yam, Michelle Wai, Philip Keung, Ivana Wong, Alex Fong, Bob Lam, Natalie Tong
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures & Clover Films
Opening Day: 15 February 2018
Synopsis: An ageing bachelor playboy finally meets the girl of his dreams and proposes marriage, only to discover her psychologist stepmom was his first love long ago. The future in-laws initially pretend not to know each other but as the wedding date gets nearer, the rekindling of long-dormant feelings develops into a cross-generational love triangle.
For those who don’t know, he sui (festive) films are celebratory movies which pop up during the lunar new year period. They have become a precursor staple to augur the holidays, much like the clanging songs, red packets and mountains of tangerines, but have noticeably waned over the years in popularity.
In a way, these films act as a symbol of reunion, usually bringing all levels of actors together in a snippet-filled gag fest that hypes up the cheer. A Beautiful Moment honours this trend with veteran stars like Carina Lau and Simon Yam, mixed in with younger talents Michelle Wai and Ivana Wong. With intentions meant more for a visual Rolodex of who’s who, it’s almost impossible to secure a full plot from these genre films. But one can try.
Simon Yam acts as a ruthless property tycoon that relishes in bringing his opponents down. He is empowered by his relentless pursuit of greed and power, and regards his nemesis (Philip Keung) as a dimwitted copycat. Flashy, obnoxious, and incredibly successful, he is an unstoppable ogre until he meets a young girl (Michelle Wai) who saves him from being beaten up by a hired group of gangsters. Sparked by her refreshing personality and innocent nature, he slowly begins (and for the audience, a little uncomfortably so) to fall for her.
Before Korean and Taiwan dramas came to be, Hong Kong soaps were already making their mark with twisted plots. So let’s turn up the cringe a little more by making the mother (Carina Lau) of that girl also his ex-lover. When Simon meets his future in-law and recognises her as his ex, the generation-gap-plus-almost-incestuous reality explodes for the audience over the most awkward restaurant table meeting.
But this is a festive film remember? So let’s wrap it up nicely. As the ex-lovers spar away, pretending that they have well and truly moved on, while gazing wistfully at their antiquated pagers for the other’s message, we know how this is going to end. Simon learns his lesson that life’s happiness is beyond money, fame or success, and turns into a preaching philanthropist that wins back old flame Carina.
We’re certain A Beautiful Moment isn’t having any Golden Horse aspirations. It’s just a classic, if mildly updated, genre film that reaffirms good values, punches it in with plenty of cheesy side plots, and littered with goofy or nostalgic cameos.
Most fun of these has to be the spooky segment where Law Lan, notorious for her role as an elderly mute spirit, scares away young punks trying to evict her from her flat. She joins Lo Hoi-Pang and Simon Lui to spin local folklore to ward off harassment.
Patrick Tse also appears in another segment, where he reprises a legendary gambling tricker. With ponytail and off-shoulder coat, the image will no doubt stir fond memories for some. He adds his presence to others like Bob Lam, Nancy Sit, Alex Fong and Louis Yuen.
No doubt an annual ritual for some, A Beautiful Moment will satisfy that quota for a buffet film - there’s something for everyone. We just wished Carina and Simon would look a little less tired in their roles, with their less-than-enthusiastic performances.
(A seasonal outing that checks all the boxes for its genre, but hackneyed acting from the leads makes the film rigid and tired)
Review by Morgan Awyong