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  • Lady in Black portrays Sang [Tony Leung Ka-Fai] as a worker in a building firm and May [Lin Ching Hsia] as his devoted wife, as well as "working mom". The first one is affected by social climbing obsessions and, in order to gain wealth and power, tries to ingratiate himself with his boss and also gambles big sums of money. However, things start going amiss when he loses $440.000 in the games. May, unaware of the reasons, generously helps the husband in trouble by forging her boss' signature on a check but becomes desperate, when she learns that her husband won't be able to return the $500.000 in time for her to fill the hole left in the firm's balance. How will the family, which also encompasses their son and May's father, be able to come out of this mess?

    The movie is a tragedy, with few endearing moments and many harsh and cruel ones. There's a deliberate intention of dramatizing every scene, i.e. by making heavy rain fall down restlessly or by making the two co-stars (son and grandpa) "shakespearian" (meaning that they react pessimistically and impulsively to each situation), yet the aspects the movie deals with - loneliness, social climbing, the charm of power, moral integrity, faithfulness, elders' rest home, bankruptcy - are real and not exaggerated. Overall it's a movie worth seeing, more over as it's enlightened by a great and realistic interpretation by the two leads. 7/10

    The DVD from Deltamac displays good picture quality, but suffers in the subtitles from a poor English translation
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was an intense and disturbing family thriller, where Tony Leung Kai Fai plays a man drowning in gambling debt. This placed a huge strain on his relationship with his wife (Brigitte Lin) and, deciding to take the cowardly way out, he pushes his wife off a boat during a Thailand trip and, presuming she drowns, hopes to collect the life insurance money. However, the wife survives and returns to Hong Kong to exact revenge.

    The events in this film demonstrates that they could, in fact, take place in real life. This is what generates the fear and thrills while watching it. I remembered being disturbed after seeing Brigitte Lin's character slip off the boat and into the raging ocean waters, turning up later, bloodied and bruised on an island. Then, the tension mounts as she finds her way back in Hong Kong to find her husband.

    The acting was pretty average, but serves up well to the on screen tension and drama. The kid seems to be unnecessarily mixed up in all the chaos in the film. ***spoiler ahead*** The ending though was rather gory and overkill. ***spoiler ends***

    Grade B-
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is so delightfully dramatic. It is relentless in its attempt to make you feel some emotion or other. I found myself wishing it would perk up just a little, instead of being MacBeth all over the place.

    Now, for my interpretation of the plot. It's a fairly simple one. Sang has a tendency to gamble, but no talent for it. Once he becomes so entangled in debt he can't get out by normal means, he convinces his wife May to embezzle funds from her boss. That is the first thing we see in the movie--May attempting to match her boss's signature. Even this early in the film, you can cut the drama with a knife. May signs the name over and over again, beads of sweat appearing on her forehead. A close-up of the clock is shown.

    She continues writing his name. Suddenly, a woman bursts in, saying "I saw everything!" Fortunately, she's referring to another incident, but May very nearly has a massive coronary. At this point the drama is slightly deflated by the incomprehensible subtitles. The woman, a friend and coworker of May's, is referring to something that recently happened--their boss came on to another coworker, and was shot down. The friend is greatly amused, saying the boss loves to "shake" but won't get anywhere. She then, according to the subtitles, says something about kissing the wax lips. I can't even begin to guess at what she is actually saying. I am sure it was a lovely speech and all, but I didn't get a word of it. Not one word.

    At any rate, May succeeds in forging the signature, and becomes even more nerve-wracked during her visit to the bank. She is told to wait (as frequently happens when banking) and she's afraid that she's been discovered. Actually, it's just unusual to withdraw such a large amount of money all at once. May doesn't think of that, apparently. As it happens, the banker has mistaken her for someone else, so he gives her the go-ahead. By this time I was afraid May wasn't going to make it. She doesn't have the makings of a criminal mind. She is obviously doing something she shouldn't be--the look on her face is evidence of that. Finally when she gets outside and delivers the money to the good-for-nothing Sang, she breaks down and admits she's terrified. Well, who knew?

    Sang promptly takes the money to his debtor, but there's no way he can reimburse May's company for it in the time it takes for their bank statement to arrive. If the money doesn't show up, May will be in serious trouble. (May would be in trouble. Not Sang. I wonder if he thought about that? Also--wouldn't May's company see a humongous withdrawal, followed by an equally humongous deposit? Wouldn't they wonder about that?) At any rate, they decide to visit Sang's "rich" uncle to ask for some money. Surprisingly, the rich uncle asks them for money--he's looking for people to invest in his farm. Sang is depressed by this point, and further angered by his uncle. On the ferry ride home, Sang gets a little tipsy and hangs his legs off the end of the boat. May is horribly seasick, but worried about Sang, so she wobbles to him and asks him to come back with her. In trying to help him, May falls off the boat into the ocean. Sang catches her arm and holds on to her while she begs him not to let go. During this short moment, it occurs to Sang that maybe May is the cause of his problems. She stole the money, so it could be interpreted as her fault. Furthermore, she serves as a reminder to him what a failure he is. It would be nice to eliminate that reminder. So, thinking of his best interests, he lets go and she sinks into the water.

    That's the first section of the movie described as well as I could manage. Giving away the rest of the movie would count as a spoiler, so I won't do that. (Has anyone noticed that on the back of these Hong Kong movies the little description tells you EVERYTHING? The whole plot is right there, in garbled English. No stone is left unturned. I guess they're afraid we won't figure out.) Basically, Sang races up the corporate ladder without May holding him back with those dratted morals of hers. He meets another woman that he fancies very much--she's filthy rich, and he could get used to that. He has lost all feeling for anything connected to his "former" life. His son is treated horribly--he is left alone for lengthy periods of time, he has to fend for himself where food is concerned, and Sang beats him frequently. One night, however, a mysterious "lady in black" appears (the movie shows us who she is, but no one is the movie knows until later). She can't speak, but she seems to care very much for the little boy. When he tries to prepare his own dinner and screws up, she obviously feels for him and she wishes she could help him. She can't be seen, because her face is disfigured. (I never did figure out why.) As the rest of the movie progresses, the Lady in Black goes through a transformation to become her old self again, and this time she's mad. The somewhat violence sequence towards the end of the movie is her attempt at revenge.

    All in all, a nice little Hong Kong melodrama, with a great performance by Brigitte Lin. No big surprise there, though.
  • For mainstream fans of Brigitte Lin's works, she is mostly known for her seductive roles in either fantasy or wuxia genre (e.g. 1993's THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR). But in this little-known thriller called LADY IN BLACK, fans get to see the different side of Brigitte Lin. This is a rare moment where she gets to play a darker-than-usual role unlike anything she has done before.

    Brigitte Lins plays May, an estranged wife who is stuck in a loveless marriage with her naive husband, Kin (Tony Leung Ka-Fai). Kin is a compulsive gambler who always dream of getting rich and May's father-in-law Grandpa Leung (Shek Kin) doesn't particularly likes his attitude. When Kin stuck in a huge gambling debt, he persuades his wife to embezzle HK$500,000 from the company she work for. She agrees to help him on the condition that he will have to return the money just in time before anyone notice about the embezzlement.

    Unfortunately being an irresponsible person as he is, Kin returns home and confesses that he loses all the money May has given it to him. Desperate to loan money, both Kin and May travel to Thailand to seek financial help from Kin's wealthy relative. However their attempt proves to be fruitless.

    On the boat back, May finds out that Kin is trying to commit suicide. When she tries to help him out, she slips off the boat and falls into the water. At first Kin tries to rescue her but seeing that this is his chance to make her the scapegoat of the crime, he deliberately letting her hand go and left her there. She is presumed to be drowned and this leaves Kin free from his responsibility to start a new life by romancing his boss's (Kwan Shan) daughter and eventually work his way becoming a manager. He also wastes no time in sending Grandpa Leung to old folks' home and maintain custody with his only son, Ming (Gregory Lee).

    However, Kin doesn't know that May is still alive from the boating accident. She is fortunate enough to be saved by a boat filled with Vietnamese refugees, except that her face is left horribly disfigured and even damaged her throat until she is unable to speak a word. Upon reaching home back to Hong Kong, she is struggling to put her life back together, only gradually to find herself in a rotten hell.

    Brigitte Lin's emotionally raw performance as May stands out as one of her finest roles she ever committed. Meanwhile, Tony Leung Ka-Fai is perfectly cast as an irresponsible and unfaithful husband. As a revenge drama, LADY IN BLACK is bleak and punishing enough it's almost like watching a Category III picture (even though the rating here is only IIA). The opening scene that quickly establishes the suspenseful tone from the time where May starts embezzling the company's money to her eventual fate at the boat is worthy of Hitchcockian territory. The all-hell-breaks-loose climactic finale which sees May goes all out against her husband is both riveting and intense cinematic experience.

    For a while there, Shaw brothers veteran filmmaker Sun Chung's direction is compelling enough to warrant your attention especially his pessimistic view of how marriage and life can go horribly wrong if things goes out of control. But what prevents this movie from becoming a genre classic is his over-the-top approach in the middle part. After a promising setup, subsequent scenes immediately loses steam with almost all characters spend their time shouting at each others. If that's not insulting enough, things goes so melodramatic where thunderstorms and bombastic music are presented to the point of hysteria. Then there's the terribly annoying performance from Gregory Lee, even though his scene with Shek Kin does show some genuine moments of emotional warmth.

    Despite its shortcomings, LADY IN BLACK remains a must-see for fans of Brigitte Lin's works. This is also one of last movies Sun Chung has ever directed. His other two movies after LADY IN BLACK are Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung-starred CITY WAR (1988) and Vivian Chow-starred ANGEL HUNTER (1992).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Talk about soap opera. Man has his wife embezzle millions for his business and gambling debts. When a trip to see his uncle to get money to pay it all back goes badly they return home via and ferry and in an accident she falls overboard. The husband continues on with his "winning ways" as complication follows complication as his misdeeds and those of his wife begin to turn up. People die and others come back from the past. Grand tragedy becomes a comedic as the twists become pretzel like and then some. You simply can't take your eyes off the screen, even as you begin laughing at the film because you won't believe where its going, with some late in the game twists that will have you throwing up your hands as you double over in laughter. Its a year or decade of TV soap opera plots crammed into 90 minutes. Unbelievable and unbelievably silly-and yet you will have to watch it all the way to the end.