A father’s ex-girlfriend resurfaces after a 10-year absence wanting to take her son away from him. With his world shattered, he must decide between what is best for his son and his own future happiness.
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Vastly different from anything To had made up to that point, Ah-longis a kind of Kramer vs. Kramer story. . . . Chang and Chow co-wrote much of the script, but the ending, which I won’t spoil, is pure Johnnie To.
Very strong journeyman-type of work from To in this one, and a great many of the hallmarks of his style are already on display. Some memorable virtuoso sequences and deft elisions of time and flashback mark this film as the work of a future master. The film's flaws are encoded into the maudlin script, but To surmounts them at nearly every turn with sensitive framings of the fine performances from the film's stars.
A good example that shows that "cheesy" melodrama and raw unfiltered emotions don't have to be two separate things that can't be combined but that they can work autonomously together to work towards a common goal.
A straightforward drama about a single father's conflicted responses to the return of his financially successful ex and what it might mean for his relationship with his son. Strong performances all around keeps things going whenever the plot briefly stalls out, and if nothing else, it provides a fascinating glimpse at how minimal To can be. The more active, visceral finale, though, points toward the To to come.