review by Neo
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does it again!
One of the most consistent director in HK in the recent years has not been Johnny To or Wai Ka Fai, but someone else - Derek Yee. After the emotional breakdown tragic drama - Lost in Time, and the equally dark and bleak look - A Nite in Mongkok, Derek Yee's two films alone stands as the one of the best of 2003 and 2004 respectively. While 2 Young will not reach the same league, but the feeling that people gets out of it is very much - Yee's signature written all over it. Romantic drama has also been a favourite genre for Neo and add that coming of age and family issues into the mix equals a film that effortlessly brings the audience into the mode and ease them along without disappointing them at all. What I believe is that this movie is good because it is not one of those forgettable teen coming of age movies, but rather that does not dare to venture into territories that seems closer to reality than movie world. What makes this movie works is not ultimately the script, but rather the desperateness of Eric Tsang, and the calm yet subtle caring figure of Anthony Wong. The two actors on screen portray an irresistible charisma that may well be a continue feeling from the two standout confrontations in Infernal Affairs series. Ultimately the movie is able to touch the heart of both parents and young adults alike and raises a number of contemporary issues that Neo will dealt upon as he continues to write the review.
The movie goes like this - Ka Fu (Fong) is born to a working-class family. He is happy since he has a very loving family. Natalie (Sit) grows up in a very affluent family. Her parents want her to have the best and thus have lined up a rich education for her. However, Natalie is not happy. She finds no love from her parents and they are often away on business trips. Ka Fu and Natalie are from two different worlds. They are not related in any way, but fate throws them together. Natalie accidentally falls pregnant. Ka Fu's parents are so furious because they find their son following in their footsteps. They do not want Ka Fu to regret when he gets older. However, they are finally moved by the love of the young pair...
Essentially, you are probably asking, why the hell would Neo like this movie? Well to be honest, it is because Neo loved Fiona Sit, wait, actually that is too honest. Honestly, it is the feeling that doesn't tell you straight away, but the fact that a movie remains on your mind a few days after watching it, can not be too bad after all. The movie deals with the issue of young love? Can two young people no older than 18 be truly in love and be able to start a family? Can they? This is very much an ethical issue, surely 9/10 people in today society would say - WTF? But think about years ago, or perhaps not so long ago - a generation ago - people married at age of 18 or 19 or 20? So what's the problem of them? Is it because this generation of people are less mature than before? Well, the answer is obviously no. It is more of a matter of wider problems such as universities, money, health, and yes - society. Nowadays, without an university degree, a good job will be pretty hard to get and obviously it is a reason why parents don't like seeing their kids dating that early, even though they still do so regardless. This is where the movie succeed, it is not because they dealt with this issue, but the mere fact of showing both sides to it. Eric Tsang as Fong's father is almost perfectly realistic, as he can be strict on him, but yet happy that his son got a girlfriend. What made him angry is not that his son got Fiona pregnant but more in a way that he does not want his son to follow his same path and to live in a hole for the rest of his life.
The wider complication is further enhanced by the problem and question of can two people from different worlds go together - one as rich as Fiona and one as poor as Fong. Perhaps an answer of this one is much more simpler as it is all a matter of timing and let's leave it at that. However another area of concern is the resolution of whether two 18 years old should have a child or go to the road controversially traveled nowadays - abolition. This one question will be answered depending on who you are and as far as Neo is concern, having the child may ruin their chances of education, but the feeling of abolition is one lasting regret that you will have to live with for the rest of your life. If life is so unpredictable, who knows maybe you will still be successful one day, but if you kill someone, that feeling of guilt and regret will forever stay in your mind and that is probably the worst feeling. As Neo once say, to live a life in fear is a life half-lived, so why would Neo wants to live my life in fear?
While that's up to personal opinion, the movie issues does not end there, but rather leading to the problem of does a rich father allow his daughter to marry a poor and unsuccessful 18years old guy? Clearly all those fathers out there right now would be thinking exactly like Anthony Wong and in the real world the answer is clear as crystal - NO. But Why? We know the answer, but why? This is another area that the film seems to succeed. The film does not just show a one dimensional character, but rather Anthony Wong, a subtle actor portraying a rich and mysterious father role. The way he portray him is not showing the father as faultless, but rather it is his responsibility that the whole thing happened. What lead to Fiona feeling so lonely? What leads to Fiona seeing Fong? If it wasn't for Anthony being too money-minded and not caring about Fiona in real physical person, then all that may not have happened. Then again, we are going too existential here.
One credit to director Yee, is the realism level of the film, he depicts life as not easy and that romantic life can not be forever. When Fong and Fiona run away to a new life, it starts of it probably the most romantic dream like fashion, but then money becomes a problem and then leading to communication. At this point, Yee cleverly points out to us to question whether this is really love, but lust? Perhaps, what really makes the film is not Fong or Fiona, but rather a standout performance from Eric Tsang. His hot temper yet deeply loving his son, is one hell of a performance, that while may not be totally cinematic, but the realism he adds to his role is without doubt fascinating to watch.
After all these paragraphs, we still haven't talk about one important aspect of the film, the two young leads - Fong and Fiona. After an atrocious debut in Twins Effect 2, which somehow gained him a award nomination for newcomer (of which I was like shit ass shocked at how a crap performance can???), Jackie Chan's son, second encounter is by far more pleasing to watch than the first. Although obviously possessing of absolute no talent whatsoever, Yee casts Fong well in a role that requires little emotional range, but the need to portray an innocent character. What a perfect match to himself! As a result it actually works, despite his very limited acting skills. On the other hand, Fiona shines through her role in comparison, while not a great performance, it was good, as she was natural when Fong is stiff and stoic in comparison. Then again, signs of bias is obvious when Neo kind off like Fiona.
Seriously and almost definitely this is probably one of the better coming of age films, as it is not afraid to deal with all kinds of contemporary issues. Relevant or not, Yee displayed that there is no one way to things, always more than one if not more... This is a film that deals about family issues, the problems of the generation gap is never more evident, however what separate Yee's film from other craps is his ability to show the parent's side and the children's side. While as expected, these kind of movie tends to end on a sweet note, it the ultimately the process that made this movie so relevant to today society. Perhaps Fiona sums it up well, you never truly understand your parents until you truly become one. In other words, before becoming a mother or a father, you probably will feel how I will be a better one than my parents, but then you realise that the more you love your child the more you will want to protect them from going the wrong road. However, and as proven before, whatever happens in life can not be totally controlled, even if your parents attempt to control you all your life, it will not actually work as it may well lead to a negative effect and perhaps not. So, I have written a whole heap of ongoing bullshit, but believe me here, this is a movie that will leave you thinking and lingers in your mind even days after watching it. While, there are noticeable flaws, Yee's attempts here may not have the 10/10 status as in Lost in Time and A Nite in Mongkok, it is what Neo calls: one sweet little romantic drama that actually works.
I rate it 9/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Derek Yee Tung-Sing
Cast: Jaycee Fong (Chan Tso-Ming), Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun, Candace Yu On-On, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), May 2005