21 May 2011 | rsoonsa
Only Isolated Segments Of This Stiff And Unconvincing Melodrama Are Noteworthy.
Following upon the box office success of HER FATAL WAYS, its director, Alfred Cheung Kin-ting, calls upon the leads from that film to work for him with this Hong Kong based courtroom murder trial production, Cheung himself playing the lead role, in addition to directing, co-producing, and contributing to the screenplay. It has become a financial winner, helped greatly by the casting of Tony Leung Kar-Fai and his real life lover (later wife) Carina Lau Kar-Ling. The film opens as we view trysts of two pairs of lovers, Hui (Leung) and Ling (Lau) at her apartment supplied for her by her boyfriend, played by Yuen Wah, and Li Fan-Kan (Terrence Fok Tat-Wah) and Li Hsiao-Lien (Shui Yin), who are gamboling in a nearby village field. Kan, during a sexually activated frenzy, attacks Li, mortally wounds her, and runs off. Hui, who is planning migration into the United States, bids farewell to his former girlfriend, now another man's mistress and, while on his way toward his home, comes upon a still breathing Ai. Hui attempts mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but to no avail. Local village residents mistake his actions and endeavour to lynch the hapless Hui. Kan's father, performed by Wai Ching, is Chief of the village, and resolves to cover up his son's crime by endorsing an accusation of Hui for what has subsequently become a homicide. As the suspect, he will be defended by Alan Chang (Cheung), who has yet to win a case; he will be prosecuted by James Kang (Sunny Fang Kang), who has never lost one and who here seemingly can expect another victory for himself. However, courtroom observers discover that there are material considerations during the trial that could hardly be predicted. Chang and his supervisor, Lawyer Wu (Carrie Ng Ka-Lai) appreciate that Ling must appear as a witness in order to prevent Hui from becoming Hong Kong's first occupier of an electric chair. However, she has compelling reasons for remaining silent. Carol Cheng Yu-Ling contributes a cameo as Chang's Aunt "Dodo", a disbarred attorney. Dialogue is in Cantonese and subtitles are available in Mandarin and a generally accurate English. Fine visuals (1.78:1) and sound are offered upon a Golden Harvest / Paragon DVD. Although most of the action is public trial based, and simply plotted, the film's centre of concern as well as tone loses focus along the way, and the narrative rhythm becomes subordinate to the storyline's predictability. Lau earns the acting honours here with an earnest turn as the highly conflicted Ling.