Return Engagement (1990)
Directed by: Joe
the wake of films like A Better Tomorrow and The
Killer came many movies who wanted to capture the essence
of a John Woo-movie and also make a quick buck at the same
time. I don't think Return Engagement will be considered
a classic but it does have some positive things worth mentioning.
Even if Wong Kar-Wai co-wrote this script, you won't find much originality here. The whole movie bears quite an resemblance to the films of John Woo, in other words a lot of violent shoot-outs and a good dose of melodrama. The difference here is that director Joe Cheung (Flaming Brothers) is not quite as skilled in either department.
What about the positive aspects then? Well Alan Tang's performance is not too bad. He manages to handle the lackluster material with skill and creates a somewhat sympathetic and multi-layered character. The biggest surprise to me was May Lo. When she first enters the picture I feared that we were going to be stuck with an highly annoying teenage girl for the rest of the movie. But she is actually pretty good and she and her character develops rather nicely (considering the material) throughout the piece.
Simon Yam is one of my favourite actors but here he's not blessed with a great script, so his baddie role doesn't require much really. He is entertaining to watch though and it looks like he's having fun playing evil the way only Hong Kong gangsters can. Contrary to what the cover suggests, Andy Lau only has about 20 minutes of screentime. But he's mostly in the movies highlights: the crazy and violent shoot-outs. It's not really the balletic kind of action choreography that John Woo does that's on display here, but it's still very entertaining. Fans of the heroic bloodshed-genre should be pleased after the final frame of the movie.
Engagement was made during an era I miss in Hong Kong
filmmaking and I will consider it among the better John Woo-imitators.