review by Neo

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A better than expected piece of gem…
If there is one thing Neo loves uncovering it will be low budget HK productions that turn out to be surprisingly better than expected. The Romantic Fool fits that bill with a certain flair and while it might start off rather sluggish and uninteresting, the film picks up its pace from the halfway point all the way to the eventual finale. Directed by Dennis Chan, a frequent supporting actor in the 80s and 90s produces his best directorial work in a movie about a romantic fool. While the film will forever be bounded by the clichés of the genre, it is nonetheless a movie that allows the audience to somewhat relate towards and perhaps one of the better finale of the genre in recent years. It is interesting to note that Cathy Tsui stars as the love interest and one can not stop wondering about the parallels of her character and her real life of marrying the richest man in HK.

The movie goes like this: Young girl Xia moves into a house in a remote village to write her novel. The mailbox of an abandoned house opposite to hers has been jammed with letters sent to someone whose name is Yao Shuman. Xia finally gets in touch with Yao, but Yao asks her to burn all the letters. Out of curiosity, Xia reads all those letters and uncovers the love story between Yao and "a romantic fool" seven years ago...

Cathy Tsui is an interesting character to uncover and while her performance here is extremely questionable, she is still adequately photogenic. Despite a few years on since her last cinematic work, she remains fresh and pretty in a way that allows her to get away with a rather non-existent performance. There are moments of striking parallels to her real life events and whether intentional or unintentional, it doesn’t seem to matter. Eric Tsang appears here and there in a role that is totally unnecessary, but his circle glasses do add to some humorous laughter. The young lad who played the romantic fool remains steady throughout and carries the film in a rather beefy role.

However, the film is not without its flaws as the first half is quite frankly boring and even to the point of uninspiring, but as mentioned before the second lifts off and never seemed to look back. The result is a mediocre piece of work that is better than expected. It is still a big question mark as to whether the acting is any good, but the director should be complimented for some excellent shots of the sky and steady direction throughout.

All in all, the Romantic Fool does provide some beautiful moments, but at the very end it is still very much inescapable of the boundaries within clichés in such a genre. Still, for a low budget film, Dennis Chan have provided a tiny surprise for its unsuspecting audience and for that alone the film is kind of worthy of some recommendation. Sometimes it makes you wonder how much better this film could have been if the director maintained his form from start to finish, but then again, like life, sometimes things end better than it begin or vise versa…

I rate it 7.25/10

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Starring: Cathy Tsui | Jia Jong Chiu | Eric Tsang
Directed by: Dennis Chan
Genre: Romance/Memories

Trailer/Short Clip: