Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate
editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author
of The Hong Kong Filmography.
Time 4 Hope
This romantic drama stands out somewhat from the dozens that have hit HK theatres in the past year or so in that the plot is based on real people and events. It is the late 80s and Yuen Kai-chi is riding high in life, having just won a HK Film Award for his A CHINESE GHOST STORY screenplay. While driving home one evening, he falls asleep and his car goes off the road. The accident leaves Kai-chi paralysed on his right side and in a coma for four months. Reserved young nurse Cindy Cheng Yim-chun (Athena Chu Yan) becomes interested in his case and agrees to help him with his work and other tasks that he can now only perform with great difficulty. She initially rebuffs Kai-chi's friendly advances, not wanting to come between him and his girlfriend (Stephanie Che Yuen-yuen). When the woman ends up leaving Kai-chi, Cindy gradually lets her defences down but she must still deal with parental disappointment and her lover's inability to jump start his career.
Nick Cheung and Athena Chu. Image courtesy
Yuen wrote the picture himself and you have to wonder just how many screenwriters have lives filled with such patently melodramatic situations and superficial people. (One typical moment finds a producer showing his disdain for Kai-chi's latest screenplay by using a page from it to wipe the grease off of his hands). Another obstacle here is the fact that Kai-chi is not especially likeable, even before he has the accident; the moment where he realizes just how unfairly he has been treating Cindy comes courtesy of a waitress in a bar who happened to be eavesdropping on his conversation. That may indeed be the way it was in real life but one thing that definitely does not wash is the movie's contention that the accident left Kai-chi unable to sell any of his work; a look at the man's filmography reveals that his output was down but certainly not to the degree we are led to believe. Derek Chiu Sung-kei's direction is routine and an extremely heavy-handed score underlines just how deficient the movie is at stirring genuine emotions in the viewer. The production itself is also rather sloppy, with an all-too-obviously fake rainstorm appearing at one point and Chu reading a magazine that includes a feature on ERIN BROCKOVICH, a movie that would not be made for another eleven years! Nick Cheung is Nick Cheung, with little variation on his previous work, but Athena Chu manages to be appealing and believable. Lau Sek-yin co-stars as famous screenwriter Barry Wong Ping-yiu (while Lau does indeed look like the late writer, Kent Cheng Chuk-see would have been a better choice), along with Helena Law Lan, Ng Woon-yee, and Stephen Tung Wai (apparently playing himself).