Never Ending Summer (1992)
Directed by: Lawrence Cheng
Chan Tai Yuen (Lawrence Cheng) travels to Vancouver to surprise his wife and start their new life. With his wife however, he finds muscular gwailo Speedo and this sends Chan on an emotional rollercoaster. Thankfully he manages to find roof over his head and comfort by his old classmate's sister, Ng Sam Kwai (Carol Cheng) and over time, they bond to the point that the gossip around Chinatown about them becomes true...
A little bit of everything within Hong Kong cinema (including as a good actor recently in Herman Yau's Cocktail), Lawrence Cheng took charge of directing reigns with wackfest She Starts The Fire but decided the same year to go to Canada to show a honed skill in pleasant romance-technique, in the form of Never Ending Summer. Basically An Autumn's Tale-light, Lawrence's Chan Tai Yuen is the classic happy go lucky fellow with a notch too much belief in that life never bits you in the ass and indeed, the arrival in lovely Vancouver gets him to the low places structurally this movie is expected to go.
Being totally natural and risk-free in his directing, even ventures into darkness in the form of attempted suicide ends in a Looney Toons-moment so for sure Never Ending Summer has not traveled far from its homeland cinema origins. But Cheng keeps his train on track instead of wrecking it and we are so out to care for his subjects on a basic level that lets us forget who they were come ending time. And there's nothing to dislike about that or feel ashamed of.
The change of locale is indeed fetching for most Hong Kong movies of this kind but when we meet Carol Cheng's not so female Ng Sam Kwai, we're dealing with a leader, with followers, within a very small and feeble gangster world. The top of the empire is the local laundromat in this case so no real danger is present, just a need to adhere to traditional rituals of confrontation that sees Carol exercise her verbal and outward skills to fine effect. When it all is about two characters for stretches of time, it's simplicity with huge audience approval on display. Both Chan and Ng are, as opposed to Chan and his wife, very much in synch, be it in the past and present. Both having been dealt hurt and both eventually getting physically hurt at the same time at one point. The interplay as well as the solo moments are pleasant driving forces for the flick and definitely emotional when we get dips into Ng's past scars. Gossip is an integral part of the Chinese community and Cheng, working with Cheng, more subtly speaks of how much Ng's rep as a non-feminine woman are really arrows that gets to her.
And so on and so on but Lawrence Cheng is smart enough to treat Never Ending Summer as training ground while at the same time fearlessly venturing into romantic comedy mode with a genuine mission to entertain and affect. It's easily interpreted character relations that sweeps you away for a quick 90 minutes and teaming up with Carol Cheng furthers Lawrence Cheng's mission to the point where he pleasantly succeeds on a suitably basic level. He's showing maturity in actuality when looking at the crossroads-choices presented towards the end of Never Ending Summer and embraces his odd couple like we do for the short time as well.
Mega Star presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Heavy specks dominate the beginning and the remainder presents a somewhat pale, soft but natural transfer of the film.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 (synch sound) track registers as clear and with no apparent imperfections. A Mandarin 2.0 option is also included.
The English subtitles varies in terms of full on coherence but never fails to come through overall. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available. Extras are limited to a cast & crew listing, the synopsis and the trailer.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson