Andy Lau and Jacklyn Wu are young star-crossed lovers in Hong Kong in the romantic crime drama A Moment of Romance. Radiance Films Blu-ray features a stunning 4K Restoration.
Lighting in a bottle.
A Moment of Romance is the very definition of that term. The Benny Chan-directed film has all the right elements – actors, cinematography, score, songs, story, direction, and most of all the stylish milieu to elevate it to something more than a tragic doomed young lover’s film. Andy Lau and Jacklyn Wu heat up the screen with their chemistry in a tale of a bank heist gone wrong and the cosmic fate of love.
The film isn’t just a navel-gazing affair nor a violent crime thriller but a balanced measure of both. A Moment of Romance does not keep them separate but intrinsically ties them together as a cruel game of life. Lau’s low-level wheelman Wah Dee takes Wu’s JoJo as a hostage after a heist gone wrong. It’s the post-heist where Trumpet (Wong Kwong-leung) takes issue with Wah Dee not “taking care” of JoJo. This simple act seals Wah Dee’s fate in both Trumpet and JoJo’s eyes but for very different reasons.
It’s the nihilistic streak in A Moment of Romance that gives the film its energy. Wah Dee’s fate is sealed, and we know it, the moment he goes hard into the life of crime. That eventual “toe tag” looming gives everything urgency and importance, especially the relationship with JoJo. They’re too young to realize that their star-cross romance won’t last either by design or by providence. It makes no matter as soon as the young lovers embrace their feelings, nothing will separate them.
Andy Lau’s Wah Dee is the kind of beautiful looser that is a spiritual cinematic cousin of the Ryan’s (O’Neal and Gosling from The Driver and Drive respectively) – even down to the nihilistic attitude and code of honor in a sea of treachery. Though it’s a cartoon or inanimate character without others to bounce off. Wu is great in the role of the innocent shelter rich girl JoJo giving her more than the archetype is given in other films. There’s a kindness and understanding that isn’t an attraction to the criminal life but an understanding that Wah Dee had limited choices but doesn’t judge him for that. Equally as good is Ng Man-tat as Rambo the lowly Triad Car Washer that is Wah Dee’s friend. Ng Man-tat gives the character a sense of pride and dignity that is often a troupe in heroic bloodshed films but here because the actor imbues his performance with a heartbroken grace.
A Moment of Romance is the rare romantic crime thriller that works because of its successful melding of both genres. One that you won’t soon forget.
The 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative is a beautiful verbose image. The neon-soaked 35mm shot film image is sharp, inviting, and everything you’d want from a restoration – looking like it was produced yesterday not three decades ago. The work here feels beautifully Noir-ish with the color photography with its luscious contrast levels heading into the deepest of blacks is a marvel. There is nary a scratch or blemish through the entire runtime. Radiance has given a beautifully lush transfer that feels more like a 35mm archival print than an actual home video release.
They include the following:
- Archival audio interview with Benny Chan who discusses his start in the industry, A Moment of Romance, and his collaborators on the film (2016, 21 mins)
- In Love and Danger: HK Cinema Through A Moment of Romance – A new visual essay by critic and Asian cinema expert David Desser on the genre tropes in A Moment of Romance and their use in Hong Kong cinema (2023, 26 mins)
- Audio commentary by Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng
The all-new Audio commentary by Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng begins with their bonafides before he quickly begins. Some of the details include the box office results of the film; a larger discussion of the production companies involved with the film; the origins of the film; Johnnie To’s discussion of the film and how large his role was in the film; a discussion of Benny Chan’s career as a director – including his passing; the original script’s story and its development; the work and career of Jacklyn Wu – and Johnnie To’s casting of her; the work and career of Andy Lau; the soundtrack release and its popularity; the importance of Lunar New Year in Hong Kong and China; the great supporting turn of Ng Man-tat – and a discussion of his career larger; a great discussion about pagers and massage services that are used prominently in the film; a discussion about the sex work trade in Hong Kong; a larger discussion about the action scenes and the action choreographers and action directors (some who were producers) that worked to accomplish them; a larger discussion of who does and doesn’t dub their own voices in the film; discussion throughout the commentary track about the various actors and their work here and throughout their career – keep your notes app open you’ll want to write some of the films down; and much more.
Benny Chan (21:22) – is an archival audio interview with Benny Chan discussing his start in the industry, A Moment of Romance, and his collaborators on the film. Some of the details include his first director credits was as “executive director” – explains what this means and how Jonnie To (who produced the film) helped with this title; his time in television directing movies and what he learned; a discussion of his first film A Moment of Romance – and a discussion of the production, and how the film came about, the production schedule, the budget, and To’s involvement and why he was on set every day; and much more. Note this is an audio interview that has a picture of Chan taken at the time. In English.
In Love and Danger: HK Cinema Through A Moment of Romance (25:59) – is an all-new visual essay by critic and Asian cinema expert David Desser on the genre tropes in A Moment of Romance and their use in Hong Kong cinema. Desser does a great job of breaking down everything and anything you’d want to know about the genre mashup as it relates to a larger picture. Things like themes, direction, other films of similar ilk (with visual examples), and more. There is a deep dive into the various genres A Moment of Romance works in and also how the creatives came from other films. The essay is visually accomplished in a way that some visual essays are not – with not just clips from this film but others and including visual references to the various topics he’s talking about. This isn’t just a great essay about A Moment of Romance but also about other crime and romance films.
The Final Thought
Radiance Films continues to release beautifully crafted Blu-ray editions of films like A Moment of Romance, providing the love and care they need. Highest Possible Recommendations!!!