"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"Undoubtedly the emotive stuff hit the right notes with audiences seeking to remember a lost Hong Kong"
This movie is a highly sentimental, sanitised and somewhat truncated account of Anita Mui's life. I saw her perform a couple of times and know the dodgy 1980s nightclubs she worked with her sister in Yaumati.
First off, the lead actress, the largely unknown Louise Wong, is superb. She captures Anita's pathos, although her voice is markedly different. Also, the film is a journey through the monumental changes Hong Kong experienced in the 1980s, 1990, and 2000s.
Recreating long-gone settings, such as the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park, captures a time and place that anchors the life of Hong Kongers from that era. With Jordan Road street scenes, Dai Pai Dongs and the trams making the turn outside the Lee Theatre, I had a tear in my eye.
Along the way, original footage of her iconic performances comes cleverly intermingled to give the film an authentic feel.
The movie's leitmotif is Anita's many failed relationships, her friendship with Leslie Cheung and her overwhelming tenacity to succeed. In the end, she foregoes love to marry the stage, appearing in a wedding dress for her final performance.
Although, in truth, there is another Anita Mui story to be told, and while this film alludes to it, they didn't opt to explore the deep triad links that controlled the entertainment business. The infamous slapping incident is covered, but the fall-out of two murders and a brewing triad war gets breezily ignored.
Likewise, the role of Anita's family as the film only focuses on her sister. Whitewashed from the story are her mother and brothers. That's another story. I guess the nasty family stuff and complications of intersecting on the fringes of the criminal underworld would change the tone of movie.
Anyway, I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane. Also, describing Anita as the 'Madonna of the East' is far from the truth. She was a much more talented singer than Madonna and a better actress.
Undoubtedly the emotive stuff hit the right notes with audiences seeking to remember a lost Hong Kong; that yearning for the past is especially evident after the self-destruction of 2019.
Thus, I can do no better than leave you with the lyrics of 'Song of the Setting Sun', her signature song and final performance on 15 November 2003. Cancer took her 45 days later.
In many ways the movie makers have given us an allegory of Hong Kong and this could be the anthem.
The setting sun seems limitless, yet it’s radiance doesn’t last
Gradually dispersing with the crimson clouds
It glows, fades and doesn’t return.
As months and years pass,
Life’s upheavals are hard to endure
Clouds gather and scatter, tangled in weary twists of fortune
Along the endless road, suddenly aware of a fading life
After all, happiness is brief and won’t return
Who has seen that my dreams are ordinary?
Having weathered so much wind and rain
I stagger towards my hopes and dreams
Having met your sincere shoulder and arm
Which carried me through my suffering
Rushing through the prime of life, my heart is dispirited
The road ahead is full of twists and turns
I want to go back one day, but it is too late.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.