A Secret Between Us 第一次不是你 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 3rd September 2013

Directed by: Patrick Kong
Produced by: Wong Jing
Starring: Angel Chiang, Edward Ma, Elena Kong, Lo Hoi-Pang, Kiki Sheung, Jerry Gu, Sharon Chan, Jason Chung

Film Distributed by Mega-Vision Project Workshop Limited
In cinemas Hong Kong from 12 September 2013.

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If I recall correctly, in around 2005/06, I wrote about how director Patrick Kong should take a leaf out of Wong Jing book of cheap commercial film-making, where no scenes are prolonged or wasted, no matter how crap his films are. Kong seems to be repeating himself and becoming more and more self indulgence in his numerous interchangeable films. Therefore, it is almost surprising to say that his latest corroboration with Wong Jing is a successful one, both in terms of better film-making, sharper editing, less reliant on wanna be smart gimmicks and idiotic focus on obvious cheating and lying. So the good news is that, “A Secret Between Us” is easily Kong’s most matured work to date and most likely his best attempt at actual film-making. Wong Jing should be complimented here as well.

TVB’s Angel Chiang stars in her first leading role and passes the grade with flying colours. In her first real attempt at acting, rather than being a sex symbol. Although she flashes plenty of skin and showed off her assets, it is by no means crude and indeed fittingly part of the story line. Her naive-ness works to her advantage and the manner she goes about playing a young girl having to become a sex worker in order to pay for her mother hospital bills is by no means original, but Chiang manages to pull it off without being corny. Her chemistry with newcomer Edward Ma is always there which certainly adds to the success of the film. Edward Ma is natural without being forced and restrained enough to never overacts. In a way, it is stoic performance, that could have been improved, but as a first timer, it is better than most.

All in all, “A Secret Between Us” works because it is never pretentious or cloying like all of Kong’s previous works. It is surprising how much more less self indulgence Kong goes about delivering his usual message of doomed modern relationships, with Wong Jing looking across his shoulders. Kong have always been an adequate scriptwriter, and therefore it is refreshing to see him finally come of age in delivering a romantic drama worthy of our attention. Yes, there are still some glitches here and there, but at least, it is far and in between. Change is always good and after a decade of telling the same old story and the same old bag of tricks, Kong with the help of mentor Wong (I can’t believe I am saying this), produces a maturing effort and that’s enough for now. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 8/10

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