AKA: Cop Story
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Ah Hoi
Cast: Lau Ching Wan, Lee Chung Ling, Carman Lee Yeuk Tung, Tok Chung Wa, Yuen Bun, Wong Wa Wo, Ruby Wong Cheuk Ling, Wong Jan Fai, Chiu Chi Shing, Alan Mak Siu Fai, So Wai Naam, Lam Suet
Running TIme: 83 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
Directed by Johnny To and starring Lau Ching Wan and Carmen Lee… Okay, STOP: Knowing these three things, who wouldn’t want to watch this movie? I’m a little late, I know, but I finally got the DVD and what do you know? It’s pretty good. It’s no A Hero Never Dies, but better than Where A Good Man Goes and Running Out Time (and its sequel). In fact, it’s better than a bunch of shit you could have watched back then, and better than a lot of shit that’s out now. No digital effects, no Thai guys doing circus crap; just a straight up melodrama/cop flick with nice direction and solid performances.
Loving You was made in 1995 under the Shaw Brothers label, just before Johnny To (and his collaborative partner, Wai Ka-Fai) formed Milkyway Image. Loving You isn’t as slick as some of the films he would produce under his new label in the coming years, but it’s easy to notice that it’s a right step towards perfection, at least in the case of his work with his best actor, Lau Ching Wan. It’s not like Johnny To was a stranger to making fine films (See: All About Ah Long and A Moment in Romance), but he tends to outdo (and undo) himself as time goes on.
Bottom line: If you’ve seen and loved most of the Milkway films w/Lau Ching Wan, give this one a try. Besides, it’s a great warm up for the upcoming Johnny To/Lau Ching Wan flick, Mad Detective. Take it from me, because unlike Yi Long, I have fine taste in films.
Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7.5/10
Loving You had accumulated dust an inch thick sitting in my collection for sometime before I finally settled down to watch it. Another collaboration between Johnnie To and Lau Ching-wan, Loving You tempted me for quite a while but I was easily scarred off by it’s Cat II rating and reviews of the film calling it a drama/love story. In terms of such a genre, it’s a mood thing for me and I guess I was finally in the mood. Ready for To’s penchant for melodramatic sap I was pleasantly surprised to see the film not totally void of action. Don’t get me wrong though, sappy pap is the flavor of the day but this time it’s not as unbearable as To’s awful melodramatic bloodshed pic, A Hero Never Dies.
As the story goes, Lau is a hardened, by the book, police officer, as well as a drunk and a womanizer. Hey, nobody’s perfect! He has dug himself a hole with his fellow p.o.’s and his ex (Carmen Lee) by forsaking the lighter side of life with his tough as nails attitude and murky police force duties. This way of life, of course, needs to be changed for the viewer to give a damn about his character, and Lau’s saving grace, so to speak, comes in the form of a bullet to the head. This bullet, once extracted, causes “brain fluid’ to leak through Lau’s nose and causes him to lose his sense of smell and taste! He now must rely on those he has neglected to learn to live again and start over a life he has neglected far too long.
Here, To has fashioned an evenly balanced film that accommodates all filmgoers blending action and melodrama well in yet another awe inspiring effort. He gets the optimum from Lau Ching-wan and Carmen Lee and their performances are played believable enough to hurdle any inconsistencies in plot or flaws in character. While the film may not achieve classic status in To’s body of work, Loving You was a lot better than I expected and worth the watch.
Gwailo’s Rating: 7.5/10