Star-Runner and Lost in Time Each Has its Own Merits

As a director, Daniel Lee always means contradictions. He has displayed a distinctive style in image manipulation since his first film, What Price Survival, and his pursuit of melancholic romanticism is quite established. Comparing with his sharp and bold images, his clichéd story is almost unbearable, and the affected narrative style is equally exasperating. In this aspect, Star-Runner does not fare any better than his debut work; there are still the pursuit of melancholic romanticism and the bold and outstanding images. The story is still weak, the emotion phony and the characters thin.

The script of Star-Runner, in fact, has shown improvement when compared to What Price Survival. There are interesting touches. But the characters are still flat. The love affair between a teacher and her student does create some drama, but there is no character development for the rebel youngster and the pretty teacher through out. In fact, both the script and the cinematography fail to light up the love story, and the performance of the two actors are far from touching. The mind of the director is on style, the bluish gray shots and the fighting scene with fast-paced, jumpy editing. If you want melancholic ambiance or excitement, Daniel Lee delivers. The cameo appearance of Ti Lung is full of charm. The combination of accomplished style and thin emotional development condemns Daniel Lee's works to almost great films.

Where Daniel Lee fails is what works in Derek Yee's Lost in Time. It is not a film to give you surprises. From the trailer you know the gist of the story and how it goes. Cecilia Cheung becomes a minibus driver after the death of Louis Koo, and she manages to pick herself up with the help of Lau Ching-wan. Before they go into the theatre, the audience know that it is a film with an uplifting theme. Probably because of budget limitation, it is not as exquisite as Love without End. But Derek Yee is a director who can get the best from the actors, and Cecilia Cheung and Lau Ching-wan are good actors. Hence, despite some flaws in the script (Lau Ching-wan's confession in the end is too contrived), it is still a film with dramatic attraction. The part where Lau Ching-wan teaches Cecilia Cheung how to be a minibus driver is full of real-life interest, and Lau Ching-wan, with his use of auxiliary words makes his grass-root character comes alive. Lost in Time does not attempt for any style breakthrough, but it still makes a touching film.

By Po Sharp

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