Fatal Passion (1990)

Directed by: David Ho
Written by: Cynthia Lau, Chow Gung-Hung & Riley Yip
Producer: Simon Ko
Starring: Alex Man, Eddie Cheung, Nancy Chang, Cher Yeung & Lo Lieh

Comic book artist Tim (Eddie Cheung) feels restricted in his marriage to TV screenwriter Nancy (Cher Yeung) as he is constantly criticized for his choice of wardrobe, sex only occurs on Saturdays but the sight of childhood flame Siu Man (Nancy Chang) is the trigger for an affair. The girlfriend of an assassin (Alex Man), the short burst of happiness soon leads to a spiral of violence and death.

Quenchless Desire was a Hong Kong Fatal Attraction. Fatal Passion has it on its mind while the writers (including Riley Yip who would go on to an acclaimed directing career with Metade Fumaca and Just One Look on his resume) adds a few elements to (rightly) steer it away from being judged as a clone. Rather it should be judged on the standards of the filmmaking which is pretty high considering that it's part of a Hong Kong movie making machine.

Most Category III rated Hong Kong movies pre the big explosion of erotica and true crime from 1992 and onwards often carry an interesting aura about them as they don't make a desperate plea to be part of commercialism (crass or not). Therefore David Ho's film doesn't fall into any comedy trappings, is well mounted on all fronts in a way that makes it final tally very solid. The marriage running on empty template isn't new or original but with a focus to deliver a buildup from its loveless stages, to Tim getting his needs satisfied elsewhere to the inevitable snap into violence once Alex Man's character finds out about all this, Fatal Passion orchestrates its beats quite well.

Especially effective through Yuen Bun's action directing that goes for gritty and quite violent at points and with the movie being a fairly unpredictable spiral of violence, the violent anchor that had to be effective is Alex Man. An actor given plenty of space to chew and go for the over the top, here the progression is logical and all the more scary. There's a force in there, waiting. All being part of a non-calculated entry in the busy year of 1990 and David Ho's movie gets its reputation by not being encapsulated in the rabid Category III era. Neither the second coming, nor waste... when you have something hovering around that grade, certain die hard Hong Kong cinema fans know there might be something special and lasting brewing here.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson