Hold you Tight
MEI-AH
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Stanley Kwan
Year:
1998
Run Time:
93 mins
Producer: Mei Ah
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Languages:
CANTONESE 2.1, Mandarin 2.1
Subtitles:
Chinese (S&T), English
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.85:1
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Drama - IIB
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MOVIE
8/10

Moon's (Chingamy Yau) relationship with her husband is ailing. Spending more time with his computer than his wife, Ah Wai (Sunny Chan) seems oblivious to his other half's growing discontent.
Finding solace in the shape of Jie (Ke Yu-Guan), a young pool attendant, Moon embarks on an affair behind her unsuspecting husband's back.

This may seem like an incredibly brief and unhelpful plot synopsis, but I'm trying to save first-time viewers many of the later twists to the plot.
Suffice to say, Chingamy Yau plays the role of two different characters, Moon and Rosa, who are all but identical in appearance, and this creates a great deal of initial confusion.

If the movie manages to prove anything, it's that there are a number of actors working in the Hong Kong film industry who are capable of far more than their previous performances would signify.

Chingamy Yau manages to confirm once and for all that she CAN act, and provides two very mature characterisations, as Moon and Rosa.

Although I don't consider myself a prude, the sight of Eric Tsang having sex with another man during the opening scene of this 1998 production was a shock, to say the least.
It's not so much that anything particularly graphic is shown, it's more that few Hong Kong films are this mature in their approach to the sexual aspects of their characters.
Eric Tsang was for me, the film's greatest asset.
Playing a gay man in a Hong Kong film would usually mean a high-pitched accent and a limp-wristed swagger. But thanks in no small part to Stanley Kwan, Tsang's mild-mannered and genuinely warm-hearted estate agent becomes one of the film's most appealing characters.
It's almost impossible to believe that the man responsible for bringing My Lucky Stars' "Blockhead" to the screen, is also the same one who provides one of the most sympathetic portrayals of a gay man I've seen in years.

Ke Yu-Guan, in his portrayal of Jie, also builds on his previous impressive performances.
A young man with no real family or friends, Jie's life seems almost non existent, but his final callous act towards Ah Wai is born more out of desperation and regret than vindictiveness.

Playing the film's least vocal role, as Moon's husband, Sunny Chan creates a very believable character. His performance feels extremely natural, and adds an intimate atmosphere to the movie's documentary-esque style.

Stanley Kwan has crafted a film which breaks many of the conventions of Hong Kong cinema, and confronts it's previous attempts to side-step issues relating to sex and sexuality.
It is to Kwan's credit that he never makes these scenes seem gratuitous, although they make for strangely uncomfortable viewing, due to the intimate style of their direction.

The film's composition, and the confusing dual-role of Chingamy Yau, makes for a story which, at times is hard to follow. Although the film is genuinely thought-provoking, its somewhat abrupt conclusion leaves a slight air of disappointment lingering as the credits roll.

PICTURE
6/10

A typical Mei-Ah presentation:
A somewhat overly bright print, which contains constant minor wear, is transferred with a reasonable degree of skill.
Colour reproduction is not helped by the brightness of the image, but is for the most part good.
Black levels are often muddy, with a grey tinge, and shadow detail is all but non-existent.
Artifacting is as abundant as in previous Mei-Ah releases, being very mild, though noticeable.
However, the images' generally very good overall detail makes for a pleasing, if unspectacular viewing experience.

Once again, no time-encoding is present.

SOUND
7/10

Shot in synch-sound, the DVD's Dolby Digital soundtrack is good without ever becoming exceptional. As you would expect from a drama, directional effects are rarely used, with dialogue being clear throughout.
The music used throughout is subtle and well-handled, with little distortion being present.

SUBTITLES
8/10

All but perfect, the subtitles contain only a tiny number of spelling errors.
Most pleasing is the moment when Moon and Jie talk to each other, and take advantage of Cantonese language's tonal differences. This is not brushed over in the subtitles, but is highlighted by the use of brackets after the two differing words.
This may sound confusing, but in practise it works perfectly, and should be considered for all future releases which rely on Cantonese play-on-word jokes. In particular, Chow Sing-Chi's jokes would benefit enormously from this style of presentation.

MENUS
5/10

Very simple, and fairly easy to navigate - nothing groundbreaking, but they do the job.

EXTRAS
4/10

Amazingly, the disc does actually HAVE an extra! A fairly long interview with Sunny Chan is provided, although it's of no use to non Cantonese speaking people as it's completely unsubtitled.
Other than that, there are the film's theatrical trailer, and trailers for What A Wonderful World and Step Into The Dark are provided, as well as 9 Chapter stops.

PACKAGING
4/10

An extremely poor front cover is presented here. A mass of text and pictures, its appearance is more akin to that of a bootlegged DVD than a bone-fide product.
The reverse is not much better, although the film stills used are of a higher quality.
DO NOT read the plot synopsis provided. It's not only badly written, but gives away far too much plot.

CONCLUSION
7/10

Another Mei-Ah transfer which gets the job done, without being in any way exceptional.
An extremely impressive cast all combine to great effect, creating a poignant and moving film, and whilst the aforementioned direction is at times unnecessarily confusing, it's most definitely worthy of your viewing time.

MOVIE 8/10
PICTURE
6/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
9/10
EXTRAS
4/10
MENUS
5/10
PACKAGING
4/10
OVERALL 7/10