Like a scene straight out of a movie, on the day superstar Michael (Louis Khoo) is to marry his actress sweetheart Yuan Yuan, a coal miner shows up and runs off with the bride.
While dodging the paparazzi, Michael inadvertently boards a truck driven by Sue (Sammi Cheng) and ends up in Shangri-la.
Sue is the innkeeper of a local inn and allows the rather depressed Michael to stay and get his life back together. During his stay, Michael finds out Sue is a die-hard fan and Michael’s movies are the links of Sue’s marriage. Unfortunately, her husband, Tian, disappeared 7 years ago near the inn and hasn’t been found ever since.
Year after year, the rescue team looks for Tian and Sue hasn’t given up either. But when hope turns into despair, Sue commits suicide and Michael rescues her. As time goes by, Michael nurses Sue back to health and encourages her to put Tian behind her. When they both sense love is in the air, Sue gets word Tian’s body has been found. Unable to forget her husband, Sue turns Michael down.
In memory of this magical journey, Michael turns it into a movie and personally persuades Yuan Yuan to star in the leading role of his film, “Romancing Into Thin Air”…
Following his directorial debut with the 1980 period martial arts fantasy The Enigmatic Case, To’s career came to something of an apex in the late 1980s thanks to such memorable action films as The Big Heat and tender, personal dramas like All About Ah-Long (the latter of which landed star Chow Yun-Fat a Best Actor award at the 1990 Hong Kong Film Awards). After taking the helm for such memorable action films as The Heroic Trio and directing Stephen Chow in such films as Justice, My Foot and Mad Monk in the early ‘90s, To moved into producing with the creation of independent film company Milky Way Films, a company which yielded such popular Hong Kong action efforts as Nai-hoi Yau’s The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected. Though To’s production company was indeed a success, his career behind the camera was in need of some rejuvenation, an issue which he readily addressed with the release of his highly praised 1999 crime drama The Mission.
Utilizing convention as a springboard… read more
She loves him for what he isn't, her idol, her idol for what he is, a broken alcoholic. The fantasy of cinema is she'd love either one, ever. But the beauty of cinema is as long as those meaningless, product-placement filled images keep passing by, it's still real.
This may be To’s greatest masterpiece and certainly one of the greatest metafilms. Like many before me have mentioned, the film’s portrayal of art’s influence on life (and love) and vice versa is handled with great depth. I can’t believe To has made so many masterpieces already in the 2010s.
On one of the unsung, under-seen, great films of 2012—a formalist exploration of the image-swapping between reality & cinema.
Film Comment’s best of the year, Raya Martin & Mark Peranson in Mexico, James Gray on American cinema, and an unexpected Guillaume sighting.