City of Glass
Year of release: 1998
Director: Mabel Cheung
Action director: Stephen Tung
Producer: Alex Law
Writers: Alex Law, Mabel Cheung
Cinematography: Jingle Ma, Arthur Wong
Editing: Maurice Li
Music: Chiu Tsang-Hei, Dick Lee
Stars: Leon Lai, Hsu Chi, Nicola Cheung, Daniel Wu, Vincent Kok, Eason Chan, Pauline Yam, Joe Cheung, Elaine Kam, Henry Fong Ping
Rated IIA for language
Movie Review Index
The 1998 release City of Glass represents most everything that can go wrong with the romance genre. Admittedly, these sorts of movies aren't your friendly neighborhood reviewer's cup of tea. But it's hard to fathom how anyone could enjoy something like this that is so boring, plodding, dull, and overstuffed to the gills with melodrama.
The movie begins with a fatal car accident on the streets of London. The occupants are Raphael (Leon Lai) and Vivien (Hsu Chi), who have been having an affair. Raphael's son, David (Daniel Wu), and Vivien's daughter, Susie (Nicola Cheung), meet up to collect their parents' belongings, eventually finding out the truth about Raphael and Vivien's past, as well as beginning a romance of their own.
Putting aside the creepiness of a romantic relationship between a pair of half-siblings, City of Glass simply has a lot going in the wrong direction during its' running time. First and foremost, this movie is just too long. At almost two hours, the film feels like it drags, especially when a good amount of footage is devoted to montages and sappy musical numbers. City of Glass' look is also sub-par; it's as if the camera's lens is permanently smeared over with Vaseline. And how many slow shots of rain does one need in a motion picture?
Perhaps most damningly, none of the main actors really seem to care about their roles. Leon Lai and Hsu Chi are mis-cast, which ends up them not being able to lend any credibility (or even an authentic look) to the college-age and forty-something takes on their characters. On the other side of the coin, both Nicola Cheung and especially Daniel Wu are fine enough actors, but this film was at an early point of both of their careers, and they seem unsure of where to put their energy, so they fly by on auto-pilot. When none of the actors seem to be putting in any real effort, why should the audience?