Heart Beat (1989)

Directed by: Cecilia Mau
Written by: ?
Producer: Chu Yen-Ping
Starring: Ken Tong, Emily Chu, Ida Chan, Heung Wan-Ping, Cheung Wang-Jing & Goo Chang

Confessing to the police that she has killed someone, in flashback we follow the struggles of Emily Chu's Mun. In an abusive and sexually abusive relationship with her husband Hsu (Goo Chang), Chiang Long (Ken Tong) represents warmth and hope that she can get away from the clutches of abuse...

Produced by Chu Yen-Ping (Island Of Fire) and refreshingly enough being a harsh story helmed by a woman, there is every opportunity in the setting, cinematography, atmosphere, acting and script to pull off something very effectively raw. But having good intentions is as far as Heart Beat reaches as it's production capacity still only squeezes out an insecure melodrama.

The very rural setting and some atmospheric and violent flashes as lensed by James Wu (director of The Super Ninja) indicate promise. Because there is curiosity when something seems punchy. Plus seemingly devoid of commercial trappings and a small story acting on its own terms, Heart Beat and its rough nature looks promising enough. But with early signs of overly, melodramatic acting that doesn't elevate raw scenes of drama, the affair lacks tension and our beating heart for Mun's suffering. Emily Chu is a decent enough actress and does well in the movie's most sexually explicit scenes but direction is taken to cheap melodrama that in a way takes its cues from audience friendly drama. It pulls in two different directions.

And the subsequent GOOD romance of the piece is not particularly well established and Chu and Tong does not generate chemistry. In a way this doomed romance in a gloomy setting would not mean automatic sunshine but the lack of effective vision runs throughout so many aspects of Heart Beat. Insecurity does as well. With last reel twists changing our perception of certain characters, again there's opportunity here largely ruined by shoving pop ballads and montage sequences into the ending. There is an effective, rural, harrowing tale of this kind from Taiwan. It's not Heart Beat but rather 1986's The Woman Of Wrath. NOT done by an insecure filmmaker.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson