The Romancing Star
Year of release: 1987
Genre: romantic comedy
Director: Wong Jing
Action directors: Lau Kar-Wing, Phillip Ko, Blacky Ko
Producer: Wallace Cheung
Writer: Wong Jing
Cinematography: David Choi
Editor: Robert Choi
Music: Sherman Chow
Stars: Chow Yun-Fat, Maggie Cheung, Natalis Chan, Eric Tsang, Stanley Fung, Cheung Lai-Ping, Stuart Ong, Cheung Man, Charlie Cho, Carol Cheng, Phillip Chan, Wong Jing, Wong Tin-Lam, Shing Fui-On, Maria Cordero, Suki Kwan
Not rated; contains IIA-level language and crude humor
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After his career-defining turn as Mark in the 1986 heroic bloodshed classic A Better Tomorrow, Chow Yun-Fat arguably became Hong Kong's biggest actor virtually overnight. Never one to turn down a chance to make a quick buck, writer/director Wong Jing quickly tapped Chow to appear in The Romancing Star, a dopey romantic comedy that coasts by solely on the star power of Chow and, in one of her first starring roles, a young Maggie Cheung.
In true Wong Jing fashion, The Romancing Star has a wafer-thin plot, which was most likely done in his classic "flying paper" style -- i.e., Wong was just making things up as he went along. At any rate, the basic story has Chow and Maggie as two working-class stiffs who pretend to be tycoons to impress each other, and hilarity ensues. Wong employs his usual bag of tricks, such as toilet humor (literally -- there's one scene where someone is urinated on by three people at once) and getting as much mileage out of the fact that Chow starred in A Better Tomorrow as humanly possible.
Wong Jing has never been a writer or director known for his sense of subtlety, and that is evident in spades here. Wong's modus operandi in The Romancing Star seems to be if one parody of A Better Tomorrow works, then a dozen of them employed would make this a perfect film. That is really not the case at all, and by the end of the movie, the joke has worn out its' welcome. But plucky lil' Jing still persists, and even includes yet another ABT "homage" during the end credits. Puzzlingly, even though The Romancing Star has three action directors, including one (Blacky Ko) that actually worked on ABT, there's nary a gunfight, or even any action to speak of, to be found.
Despite its' flaws, The Romancing Star still isn't a bad movie per se; it just feels like there was a lot of wasted talent and potential squandered away on a cheap production made in order to drop a fast cash grab picture on to Hong Kong screens. Of course, Wong Jing wasn't the first Hong Kong film-maker to employ this tactic, and he certainly wasn't the last, and he has shown that he is capable of making good movies, or at least ones that are entertaining by dwelling in the realm of the outrageous. But movies like The Romancing Star are a big reason many "serious" fans of Hong Kong motion pictures tend to view Wong's filmography with a jaundiced and jaded eye.