One of Hong Kong's finest directors, Gordon Chan has crafted a surprising adventure romance story with a couple of Hong Kong's biggest pop music stars. This is a big budget, international production which achieves mixed results.
Director Gordon Chan teams up with veteran screenwriter Chan Hing Kar [A Better Tomorrow] for a filmmaking vacation at a Japanese resort on Okinawa, a popular stop for HK vacationers. This is what I would call sheer mastery of the filmmaking process by Gordon Chan, who shows himself, once again, to be a fascinating commercial artist.
For this viewer, this is an important movie. Okinawa Rendez-vous was the first highly anticipated film to open in Hong Kong just after the closing of the Music Palace theatre in NYC on June 30, 2000. I'm certain that this movie would've played there. One wonders what 2nd feature would've been paired with the film by the always daring, esoteric booker that ran the place in the last years.
When the VCD appeared in the stores some weeks later, I purchased one to check out the film. I've seen a lot negative reviews of the movie which I find surprising. Several writers, I think, harshly judged this work by comparing it to the directors previous films. A filmmaker as an artist always has to be exploring new visions. This film is clearly a new direction for this artist. I find it best to examine this new work on its own merits.
Near the end of the opening sequence before the titles, Jenny [Faye Wong] has used Dat [Tony Leung] to elude some yakuza. Jenny joins Dat as he boards a tour bus from the airport to the hotel. Dat, a HK cop assigned to the File Department who fancies himself as a street smart detective, is traveling with his girlfriend Sandy [Gigi Lai] and her friend Cookie [Stephanie Che]. On board the bus, Dat sits next to Jenny with his girlfriend sitting behind them. They have this quick exchange of dialogue:Jenny: Is that your girlfriend back there?
The dialogue between these two serves as the perfect metaphor for summing up the filmmaker/viewer relationship. Leung's delivery of the last line is almost an after thought, as if he's thinking out loud about his relationship. The director seems to be telling the audience to take this film for what it is, a care-free adventure story not the re-invention of the wheel.
Once at the resort, all sorts of kooky fun takes place. Leslie Cheung and Vincent Kok , as a couple of high tech crooks, cook up some explosive events. There are hijinks with the goofy yakuza who cruise around the island in strangely modified American passenger vans, searching hopelessly for the 'missing' Jenny.
Watching Okinawa Rendez-vous, I was thoroughly entertained. The cast is obviously enjoying themselves. The filmmakers are, as well, and it shows in every frame. In the end, for this viewer, I'd say that, from a director who has made some of the best action films in the last 10 years, this is a damn fine 'screwball' romantic comedy. Enjoy!
Copyright 2000 John Crawford. All rights reserved.
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