at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1987:
Best Original Film Score (Law Wing-Fai)
Nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1987:
Best Supporting Actress (Cher Yeung)
Best Cinematography (Bill Wong)
Best Art Direction (William Chang)
Tony Au's work in the Hong Kong movie
industry can be divided into two professions really, art director
and director. He has made a handful of
movies (The Last Affair for example)
that have been fairly well received but he has also worked as
an art director on bigger projects like Millionaire's Express and Crime Story. His background as an art director really
shines through in this 1986 production starring Chow Yun-Fat
and Brigitte Lin.
orchestra conductor Song Yu (Chow Yun-Fat from The Killer)
and jewelry maker Yuet-Hung (Brigitte Lin from Police Story)
don't know each other but both are experiencing similar visions
and dreams about them being lovers....2000 years earlier.
Through an art exhibition about warriors from the Qin dynasty,
their eyes meet and they're drawn more and more to each other.
So much so that Sung Yu leaves his relationship, of 8 years
with his girlfriend Wah-Lei (Cher Yeung from Tempting Heart),
behind to be with the woman he believes is his eternal soulmate.
Together Sung Yu and Yuet-Hung start to recap how and why
their strong love ended and if it can be resurrected in present
Dream Lovers is not entirely easy to describe. At its
core it's of course a love drama but not an ordinary one at
that. It's content is like nothing I've ever seen before.
The underlying theme about reincarnation and deep love has
been planned out in a deep but very accessible way which makes
the audience get it so much more. Screenwriters Yau Da Ah-Pin
and Manfred Wong's central question I interpreted as:
Can a love be so strong that two people reincarnate in the
same time and will their love play out the same or in a completely
different way? You never doubt that these two people actually
had a relationship in the Qin dynasty but it's their hesitation
and belief that at first stops them from embracing so to speak.
If you think of it, every human being would've reacted the
same if confronted by these visions and facts, so their hesitation
is very understandable.
All these rather heavy questions does not get in the way of
director Tony Au telling the story in the way he wants to.
He has consciously chosen a very slow pace, something the
movie actually needs and is a very logical and sensible choice.
We don't want all information thrown at us at a rapid pace
but just like the characters we too want to slowly let the
"mystery" surface. In the beginning parts of the movie I got
a little worried about what direction the movie was heading
though. Some shots in there seemed almost over visual and
I feared that Tony would continue to be self-indulgent like
this but thankfully after a short while he finds his flow.
The movie is still very beautiful and indeed visual but Tony
never let's go off the narrative that also needs to be conveyed.
From frame one he makes pretty much all of the events clear
as day, providing we're willing to actually watch the movie
that is. I say that because something tells me, and I'm not
trying to offend anyone, but not anyone will be able to sit
down and enjoy the movie at the same level as I did. The viewing
takes patience and also a little inner dialogue with yourself
regarding your own belief in faith and reincarnation among
many things. I found myself totally immersed in the world
created by the filmmakers and the fact that no event was predictable
elevated the experience so much more. Every new frame and
every new scene was a surprise in itself and full credit to
the director and screenwriters for pulling it off in such
with director of photography Bill Wong, Tony Au creates the
most magic in the handful of flashback scenes, to the past
love we get to witness. These are for the most time devoid
of any dialogue but gorgeous to look at. Especially Brigitte
Lin looks so good in period clothing and she's so beautifully
photographed which makes one think that it's sad that she
retired from the industry. Without the dialogue in these scenes,
there's still no question of what they mean and Tony effectively
conveys the parallels between the past and present. During
the present segments the movie isn't as beautiful to look
at but what is more pleasing to the eye, an urban Hong Kong
or the extravagant Qin dynasty setting? My favourite spoiler
free scene in the movie, where the past and present meet,
is probably when Chow Yun-Fat has his vision of a dancing
Brigitte Lin. It's very simply made but the way Tony merges
the two realities is chillingly effective. You almost wish
that today's filmmakers would go back to this form of filmmaking
instead of relying on special effects.
The award winning score by Law Wing-Fai is probably, to some
degree, the negative aspect of Dream Lovers. He mostly
relies on creating the music and ambience with a synthesizer
which creates a wonderful atmosphere in some scenes but is
also overused in others. For example certain quiet and still
moments have music that would almost fit a scene with more
movement. Then again you have scenes that are enhanced greatly
by Law Wing-Fai's choice of scoring that you forget some of
the flaws. I respect his choices with the score but it was
not a 100% satisfying experience.
1986 was Chow Yun-Fat's big breakthrough year as a movie star
in Hong Kong, mostly thanks to the role as Mark-Gor in John
Woo's A Better Tomorrow. His role in Dream Lovers was probably one he took before he started to act in any movie
offered to him. On one hand he was probably fairly secure financially
but him being the most active actor in Hong Kong generated
some thrash movies as well. Now and again he did brilliant
work in movies like City On Fire, An Autumn's
Tale and Dream Lovers isn't so much a forgotten
role, but it kind of got lost during all the commotion surround
Chow Yun-Fat that year. Of course thanks to DVD we can rediscover
these kind of movies! His role as Sung Yu is acted out in
a very understated way and that fits very well. Of the two
lovers Sung Yu is probably the least confused but he is still
cautious with Yuet-Hung. He don't want to lose a possible
soulmate but don't want to move to quickly ahead either.
In Hong Kong 1941 Chow showed what great charisma he
already had and he continues to show that here. Marvelous
Lin is probably more known to fans of Jackie Chan thanks to
her role in his classic Police Story. That was not
a classic character role as such so I was initially a little
worried how she would handle herself in a drama like this.
I think Brigitte gained so much more confidence in this role
thanks to the backing of a great cast plus a team of accomplished
filmmakers. With all that at hand no wonder she turned in
a great performance. Together with Chow Yun-Fat's character
she also questions what is really going on before going into
a relationship based on something seen in a dream. As mentioned,
where Brigitte dominates the most is during the flashback
sequences. Here she is also very understated and has very
little dialogue but she just embodies the part perfectly,
especially in the scene when we find out what ended their
love 2000 years earlier.
Cher Yeung's supporting part as Sung Yu's abandoned girlfriend
is also very impressive. Her character gets to step aside
and accept that fact despite being heartbroken but that doesn't
make Sung Yu an unsympathetic character. Sure we feel sorry
for Wah-Lei but also understand why she has to be left alone
like that. Cher doesn't always have to act out how crushed
she is but we understand from looking at her. No more is needed.
Regarding the characters, I made a small note at the beginning
that we don't get any substantial back story to them but I
understood after a while that it was a very conscious choice.
The entire running time is devoted to slowly getting to know
them and especially in the scene where Sung Yu and Yuet-Hung
finally sit down to talk we get to know all we need at that
point. They're not the best written characters in cinema history
but there's something about how Yau Da Ah-Pin and Manfred
Wong have constructed the script around them that is so strong.
Should also mention that a few erotic scenes are found here
and there in this movie. They could've been a major downfall
for the entire production but thankfully Tony Au doesn't do
it cheaply or distasteful and they don't seem out of place
with the narrative either.
In almost every review of Dream Lovers there has always
been mentions of the ending in a negative way. Unconsciously
I think I reacted towards it being unexpected but my views
of the themes in the movie didn't hurt the ending for me.
Appropriate or not is up to each viewer.
Au's masterpiece will not be a home run for every viewer out
there. I think fans of cinema will more wholeheartedly embrace Dream Lovers but much also depends on what you yourself
think about the mentioned themes of the movie. In the end
I thought it was a breathtaking experience and as a Chow Yun-Fat
fan it's always great to see what he has done outside of the
presents the movie in it's original aspect ratio 1.85:1 and
this is quite a dirty print I have to say. The colours throughout
are quite good though and detail halts at an average. Watchable
print for a 1986 movie.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 remix provided by Megastar
does pretty much sound like mono all the way. I didn't heard
any obvious channel separation so, as with Haunted Cop
Shop, the audio seems to come very close to it's original
presentation. A 5.1 Mandarin track is also on the disc.
The English subtitles were of pretty good quality for a Hong
Kong dvd. This is a very talky movie at times and whoever
was in charge of the subs did very few errors here. Other
subtitle options provided are Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish, traditional
Chinese and simplified Chinese.
The usual standard dvd extras appears here also. We get
a plot synopsis, a cast & crew listing (with short biographies
of director Tony Au and stars Chow Yun-Fat and Brigitte Lin),
and trailers for Dream Lovers, A Better Tomorrow
1 and 3, Once A Thief and Media Asia's DVD Trailer.
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