Director: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Louis Koo, Rene Liu, Nora Miao, Max Mok,
Kent Cheng, Convoy Chan
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Opening Day: 10 April 2008
Raised by a single mother in a crime-ridden neighborhood,
LEE has risen from street punk to successful syndicate crime
money and women have always come easily to Lee. But Lee unexpectedly
falls in love with a lawyer named MABEL. When Mabel becomes
pregnant, Lee panics. Unable to commit, Lee refuses to marry
her. Determined to make the relationship work, Mabel moves
into his apartment uninvited.
stubbornness pays off when their baby HEIYI is born –
Lee’s paternal instincts are awakened and he is transformed
into a doting father. Desperate to protect his new family,
Lee conceals the true nature of his business. His gang members
undergo an image makeover and to all outward appearances Lee
is now a legitimate businessman.
secret is exposed when Heiyi reaches adolescence. Heiyi urges
her father to go straight. But Lee has just been handpicked
to be the next kingpin of the underworld and Lee must make
a choice between the brotherhood and his family.
It may have been nine years ago, but this reviewer clearly
remembers how touched he was by director Sylvia Chang’s
Tempting Heart starring the sweet Gigi Leung, the perfect
Takeshi Kaneshiro and the charismatic Karen Mok. The bittersweet
love story stayed with him all these years, and he continues
to wish that he is the protagonist of a romantic tale like
that (but that’s a separate issue altogether). Then
he saw Chang’s 20.30.40 (2004) starring herself and
the always wonderful Rene Liu and Angelica Lee, and he became
enlightened on how women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have different
viewpoints about life.
when the talented filmmaker makes a film about fatherhood,
this reviewer felt that it would also be something he’d
Jingle Ma’s Happy Birthday (2007), the very watch-able
Liu teams up with the very buff and tanned Louis Koo to play
a married couple who has a daughter. Sounds like a happy family?
The problem is, Koo is a triad leader with a violently shady
past and he needs to shake off that history to “become
a good father” (which is the direct Mandarin translation
of the movie title – not to be confused with the recent
“Run Fatboy Run” showing in theatres now).
story is nothing to shout about, if you think about all the
other family dramas out there about a family trying to get
a grip of things. But Chang is a master storyteller here.
Although you’d be predicting every minute of the plot
correctly as the movie proceeds, the 115-minute picture is
still very engaging to sit through.
moment the movie begins, you get an interesting graphic montage
of Koo’s character running away from trouble (hence
the English title, get it?). Then we go into a flashback sequence
where Koo and Liu fall in love at first sight, and you become
impressed with the campy yet effective approach here. Next,
we see how five different actresses (infant to young girl
to teenager) play the couple’s daughter. And in a fitting
finale, we get an expected twist which makes for a reflective
moment on life.
fine performances of Koo and Liu work well here too. Koo ages
nicely throughout the movie and you see him mature from a
coarse teenager to a thoughtful father figure. Liu portrays
a quirky younger self in the movie’s first half before
nicely settling into what she does best – the emotive
woman everyone wants to empathize with. The two exudes some
nice chemistry with each other and makes a great on-screen
couple. Supporting characters are played by other familiar
Hong Kong faces like Lim Suet (Mad Detective), Max Mok (Once
Upon a Time in China), Ti Lung (Three Kingdoms: Resurrection
of the Dragon) and Kent Cheng (Flash Point), which adds a
unique old school charm to the movie.
impatient viewer may find the movie tiresome the time it reaches
its halfway mark, but for those who can afford the patience,
you’d be won over by the enigmatic performances of the
leads, and hopefully along the way, you’d get some lessons
on fatherhood. This is what this reviewer has taken home with
him, because he continues to live with the vision that he
will father a happy family in years to come.
well-told story about fatherhood with a well-meaning takeaway)
Review by John Li