A tragic love story at heart, this triad action drama turns into a blood bath in the final reel with plenty of bullets flying, slo-mo action and freeze frames thrown in.
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The story kicks off in a bar by the seaside run by Uncle Cheung; his daughter Lap works there as a waitress and she has a boyfriend Rick Ma who also works at the same bar. Uncle Cheung is actually a retired triad man; soon he is talked into doing another human trafficking job for a very rich man. Accordingly, he asks Rick to be his driver and as predicted, everything goes wrong and Rick is forced to flee to the Philippines. In the meantime, Uncle Cheung himself is captured; Lap decides to sacrifice herself to triad boss Shen in order to free her father.
Fast forward to six years later, Rick, who has now become a hitman, returns to Hong Kong and runs into Lap, and since the old flame still burns, they both agree to leave and start a new life. Needless to say, Shen is not happy to let go of his top mall, and consequently, this all adds up to a big bloody showdown between his army and Rick.
Joey Wong, the beautiful ghost from “A Chinese Ghost Story” is Lap; of course with looks like hers, no one is going to let her go. Joey plays her parts well, her transformation from innocence bargirl to a triad moll is fairly convincing. She handles her role with flying colours and her goddess looks are a bonus too.
Kenny Bee is Rick Ma, Joey’s boyfriend who turns hitman. Unfortunately, he’s no action man material and quite wooden at times; however, his role here is adequate and looks comfortable holding guns.
However, the person who steals the movie is actually Lap’s driver, a junior triad called Cheung. He’s played by none other than a young Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. Tony rightly won the Best Supporting Actor aat the 9th Hong Kong Film Awards. Cheung is secreting in love with Lap, Shen’s moll and who can blame him since he has to drive her everywhere. Tony is very reliable at playing a loner who usually doesn’t get the love he wants so badly. However, when he’s on the screen, it’s hard to take your eyes off him, especially when he’s smoking.
The role of triad boss Shen is played by Chan Wai-Man. He’s unsympathetic, ruthless and kills with a drop of a hat and Chan does a great job here portraying Shen. Another Shaw Brothers veteran, Gordon Liu shows up here as Shen’s henchman, Lai Liu. Sadly, we don’t get to see much action from Gordon; he’s too busy being lusty towards Lap. Strangely, he has to wear some exceedingly bad wigs through the movie.
Director Patrick Tam, a key player in Hong Kong New Wave Cinema handles this movie well. There are moments of interesting images on screen here and his use of music from Cantopop band Beyond and Anita Mui sure help to further create atmosphere and moods.
Interestingly, Patrick stopped directing after this movie and instead, he edits films for Wong Kar Wai. It was not until 2006 where he finally directs “After This Our Exile”, starring Aaron Kwok and Charlie Yeung.
Credits must truly go to Christopher Doyle, the amazing cinematographer who brings this movie to life. The lightings and moods are incredible, especially those scenes in the night club.
Although “My Heart Is That Eternal Rose” has a predictable story and the shootouts are hasty and brief, they’re equally bloody. It’s still worth watching for Tony Leung and Joey in which they effortlessly light up the screen. After all, this is foremost a romantic love story with some bullet ballet style of action.