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City of Glass
   |     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |
Shu Qi and Leon Lai
  
Year: 1998
Director: Mabel Cheung Yuen-Ting
Producer: Alex Law Kai-Yu
Cast: Leon Lai Ming, Shu Qi, Nicola Cheung Sun-Yu, Daniel Wu (Ng Yin-Cho), Eason Chan Yik-Shun, Pauline Yam Bo-Lam, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Henry Fong Ping, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Elaine Kam Yin-Ling
The Skinny: Beautifully shot, elegantly acted, and yet oddly distant.
Review
by Kozo:
     Possibly the last UFO production is from the team of Mabel Cheung and Alex Law, who brought us the classic romance An Autumn’s Tale, as well as last year’s most overrated movie, The Soong Sisters.
     City of Glass follows two romances: one in the past and one in the present. The present one is between Wooly Suzie (Nicola Cheung) and David (Daniel Ng), who first meet at the police station following the deaths of their parents in a car wreck. The kicker: the two were not married, and were carrying on an affair. As played by Leon Lai and Shu Qi, the two parents were star-crossed lovers in their youth who drifted as politics and distance drove a wedge in their burgeoning romance. Yet their love was apparently a stronger power because years later it drew them back together. Meanwhile, the present holds conflicts for Suzie and David. Unable to get along at first, they bond as both discover the little details they have in common. At the 1997 Handover ceremony, all elements come full circle as the two watch the fireworks and reflect on the present state of HK.
     Obviously, the whole film is a metaphor for the reunification of China and Hong Kong. The film depicts relationships as turbulent and ultimately reconciliatory—just like the actual connection between Hong Kong and China. Whether or not the film succeeds with its message is another story. This is a beautifully mounted film, but it lacks something that you can’t quite put your finger on. Perhaps what’s missing is an emotional anchor. The Shu Qi/Leon Lai romance is problematic in its distance from the present; we already know what’s going to happen so there’s no tension. On the other hand, the Daniel Ng/Nicola Cheung romance suffers from lack of development. It all makes sense, but we want to spend more time with the characters. Telling two love stories is a mistake—we feel shorted on both.
     Still, the elegance and detail of the story prove to be interesting. This is a movie worth seeing, but it just isn’t as affecting as it could be. A critical smash, City of Glass earns Mabel Cheung and Alex Law the Most Overrated Award for the second year running. (Kozo 1998)
Notes: City of Glass was nominated for a record 12 Hong Kong Film Award Nominations, yet it only secured one award for Best Song.
Awards: 18th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Winner - Best Original Song ("Gum Sang But Joi", performed by Leon Lai Ming)
Nomination - Best Picture
Nomination - Best Director (Mabel Cheung Yuen-Ting)
Nomination - Best Actor (Leon Lai Ming)
Nomination - Best Actress (Shu Qi)
Nomination - Best Screenplay (Mabel Cheung Yuen-Ting, Alex Law Kai-Yu)
Nomination - Best New Artist (Daniel Wu)
Nomination - Best Cinematography (Jingle Ma Chor-Sing)
Nomination - Best Art Direction (Yu Ka-On)
Nomination - Best Costume Design (Yu Ka-On)
Nomination - Best Original Score (Dick Lee Dik-Man, Chiu Tsang-Hei)
Nomination - Best Sound Effects
 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Laser and Video Co., Ltd.

 
 
 
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