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City of Glass

Executive producer, Alex Law.

Executive producer, Alex Law.

Directed by Mabel Cheung. Screenplay, Alex Law, Cheung. Camera (color), Jingle Ma, Arthur Wong (U.K. scenes); editor, Maurice Li; music, Dick Lee; art director, Bruce Yu. Reviewed at Golden Gateway 3, Kowloon, Hong Kong, Dec. 9, 1998. Original Cantonese title: Bolei chi sing. (Cantonese and English dialogue.) Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Leon Lai, Shu Qi, Nicola Cheung, Daniel Wu, Enson Chan, Yam Bo-lam, Vincent Kuk, Elaine Chin, Joe Cheung.

Following her flawed epic of 20th-century Chinese history, “The Soong Sisters ,” Hong Kong helmer Mabel Cheung returns to more familiar ground with “City of Glass,” an almost Lelouchian saga of how chance marks people’s lives and human behavior repeats itself across generations. Pic’s high-gloss romanticism, showcasing heartthrobs Leon Lai and Shu Qi, may alienate viewers who recall subtler Cheung works like “Eight Taels of Gold,” but on its own terms the movie is a good wallow. It performed reasonably, grossing HK$ 9 million ($ 1.2 million) in late ’98.

Married (but not to each other) lovers Raphael (Lai) and Vivian (Shu Qi) are killed in a car crash in London on New Year’s Eve 1997, and their respective son (Daniel Wu) and daughter (Nicola Cheung) meet in Hong Kong when returning their parents’ ashes. As the youngsters slowly bond, pic cleverly intercuts flashbacks limning Raphael and Vivian’s long affair of the past quarter-century, which also mirrors the territory’sgrowing sophistication and internationalization. Though she ages unconvincingly, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi is thoroughly engaging, and pic has some lovely moments of stillness and beauty between the large dollops of melodrama.

City of Glass


Production: A Golden Harvest release (in Hong Kong) of a United Filmmakers Organization production for Golden Harvest/Amuse Inc. (International sales: Golden Harvest, Hong Kong.) Produced by Raymond Chow, Yokiichi Osato.

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