review by Neo

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Hong Kong may well be known for movies in a stereotypical genre, like action, but this is not necessary always the case. In fact, Hong Kong cinema is also a very post modern one and coming from the roots of reality post modern TV movie like Truman Show, comes Astonishing, a movie that raises more questions that it answers. On a normal viewer level without any knowledge of postmodernism, one will leave the film feeling a sense of being cheated, but on the other hand, as a postmodern student, I tend to be able to take the film’s ambiguous ending one step further. Right or wrong I may be in my following interpretation is only an attempt to evaluate and distinguish whether Astonishing is totally crap or a meaningful movie.

The story moves along like this, Man (Christy Chung) and Lok (Alex Fong) are a pair of sweet couple. On their 3rd wedding anniversary, Man receives a CD rom, in which an old man predicts that Lok will not love her anymore and she is going to lose everything... After seeing the CD, Man is very confused but she does not care much. The other night, on the way Man and Lok return home, they encounter a car accident and Man is fainted. When Man wakes up, she is being called Fiona, who is Lok's secretary who secretly loves him...

Of course, without further discussion on the plot level, Herman Yau directed a rather confusing and slightly even with plenty of twists thriller. However, whether or not the film is just one of those stupid thrillers or not is entirely another question. In fact one can even say with confident that at the very least, the first ¾ of movie is a thriller, which became a Truman Show’s twists and eventually an ending that is a very typical straight to video one. However, to my own personal opinion, I tend not to agree, and in fact, it is Yau’s twist of Truman Show that made me think in a postmodern way, that the movie stupid typical ending is actually critiquing the routine and overused technique (don’t wanna spoil too much) of endings that try to unsuccessfully cheat the audience.

As to performance wise, I felt that Christy Chung is a by far improved actress and put in what can be so called as one of her best performance of her flower case movie career. She is pretty and is effective in her portrayal of a troubled mind woman. May be it is her two year stint in Thailand as a “R-rated” actress made her become a real actress. She is definitely gorgeous to watch and is good to see, another actress showing good potential. Alex Fong on the other hand put in another TVB actor type performance and is not standing out and seems to be overshadowed by Christy Chung. One think of notable mention is Christy extremely realistic portrayal of a lost and handicapped look person. It is truly realistic and captivating to watch. Cameos are also in and out throughout the movie and some cool one must be Sammo Hung, Rain Lee and a few others.

Overall Astonishing is a movie that will receive a majority of negative reviews from people who did not really get Herman Yau’s message. But on the other hand, Yau may have no message whatsoever. Nevertheless, to my honest opinion, I do feel that Astonishing is a postmodern movie that utilises postmodern techniques throughout the movie to raises more questions than it answers. The Truman Show type scene is indeed critiquing the impact and raises the question of the true nature of what is an identity. This is of which will lead to the routines thriller ending, that I felt Yau is trying to critique the typical Hollywood thriller endings than Yau being out of thoughts. This is the reason why I actually kind off like this movie, and I sure a lot of people will disagree with my opinion, but then again, I might be totally wrong!

I rate it 7.5/10

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Product Title : Astonishing
Artist Name(s) : Christy Chung | Alex Fong | Sammo Hung |
Language : Cantonese | Mandarin |
Duration : 91 minutes
Reviewed by Neo (Andrew) - May 2004

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