CHRISTMAS ROSE (圣诞玫瑰) (2013)

Genre: Drama/Suspense
Director: Charlie Young
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Gwei Lun Mei, Chang Chen, Xia Yu, Liu Kai Chi, Qin Hailu, Wan Qian, Pat Ha
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Sexual References)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 23 May 2013

Synopsis: Tim (Kwok) is a defence attorney with a heart of gold. Refusing to be simply a hired gun for his clients, he quits his high-powered job to become a prosecutor for the Justice Department.With the support of fiancee Megan and cop buddy Nam (Liu Kai Chi), Tim decides to start afresh. When he meets a handicapped piano teacher, Jing (Gwei), who urges him to help her. She is accusing her doctor, Zhou (Chang) a renowned surgeon of sexual harassment during a routine check-up. But with no witnesses and only their own conflicting testimonies, a Rashomon-like mystery unfolds. To make matters worse, Zhou's defence attorney, Freddy, is Tim's successor at his old law firm, and proves to be Tim's toughest opponent to-date. As a media frenzy encircles the case, it slowly destroys the lives of everyone involved.

Movie Review:

It sure pays to know people in high places. That’s the first thing that came to our mind when we saw how this Charlie Young directed movie was marketed. Besides the big names that are Aaron Kwok (Conspirators, Cold War), Gwei Lun Mei (Girlfriend Boyfriend, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate), Chang Chen (The Grandmaster, Red Cliff) and Xia Yu (Double Trouble, The Painted Veil), Tsui Hark and Jacob Cheung’s names are slapped on in the most indiscreet way as producers. One should have noticed by now how the cast members come from Hong Kong, Taiwanand Mainland China– to increase the ease of marketing the movie in all three territories. This being Young’s directorial debut, it won’t hurt to have such big names backing her up.

This courtroom drama has Gwei playing a handicapped girl who accuses Chang’s renowned surgeon of sexual harassment. Enter Kwok’s prosecutor and Xia’s defence attorney for an emotionally charged showdown of what it takes to unveil the truth, and whether it really matters in this day and age where media messes fact, reality and justice up in the most unimaginable ways.

If Tsui and Cheung’s involvement in this movie was to guide Young along the treacherous paths of filmmaking, they have done a fairly good job. The 90 minute production is well worth your time, considering how it left us pondering about how the world has morphed into a state where appearances matter more than true emotions, which were once held more dearly when things were simpler. Young’s script had gotten substantial funding from the Asia Film Financing Forum, and while the plot could have helped with a little more melodrama, the fairly tight pacing of the storyline manages to keep viewers engaged.

The cast delivers noteworthy performances. While Kwok doesn’t turn in any surprises with his portrayal of a emotionally tormented and torn man, he still manages to leave his fans impressed with how he has transformed into a credible actor in recent years. Gwei whispers a lot in this movie, and it proves how we are often conveniently bought by appearances. The award winning actress shows us again how volatile she is, with this character that may just be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Chang’s cool and almost menacing portrayal of a doctor under the media’s spotlight is one of his best performances yet, and one cannot help but feel for the immense pressure his character is experiencing. Again, a Mainland Chinese actor effortlessly steals the show from his co stars. Xia’s screen presence is undeniably strong, and his scenes with Kwok are memorably powerful.

There is little wham bam action in this drama, and most scenes take place in the courtroom where characters pit their wits against each other. One may diss this as yet another courtroom story with little new surprises to offer, but we’d like to think it serves as a stark reminder how truth isn’t of utmost importance these days, as much as we often swear by it, making it a mantra we tell others we live by. 

Movie Rating:

(A commendable courtroom drama by first time director Charlie Young, complemented by some of the talented names in showbiz)

Review by John Li  

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