Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cherie Chung Week: Stars and Roses (1989)

Ignoring all of the real, interesting drama concerning the plight of Vietnamese refugees in 1989 Hong Kong, Stars and Roses (1989) instead offers Andy Lau as Chi Tsu, a magazine photographer, who is sent to Vietnam to deliver a package.

Despite what the packaging of this DVD may imply, this film is not so much about Vietnam as it is about having a star sent to a dangerous country outside of Hong Kong.

Andy almost gets run over by Cherie Chung on her scooter and, in the attempt to return her dropped wallet to her, he gets locked up in jail after causing a serious traffic accident.

Cherie seems to work for a local military warlord as a translator. Additionally, all of the English and Japanese voices in the press conference scene are very badly dubbed.

Inexplicably, even for 1989 Vietnam, Andy's character gets a shoddy trial and is quickly sent off to the sort of countryside prison work camp you might see in a Chuck Norris film.

Director Taylor Wong does a pretty horrible job of pacing this flick, or even explaining what is going on in a believable fashion.

Stars and Roses (1989) offers next-to-nonexistent character development and a strained plot.

For some reason, Cherie's translator is out there in the countryside as the translator at this anti-capitalist re-education camp.

If you've ever wanted to see Andy Lau get his ass kicked for being an unrepentant capitalist, you get your wish in Stars and Roses (1989).

Shing Fui-On is a fellow prisoner but he's also a thief as Andy quickly finds out.

Look for veteran Hong Kong character actor Wong Yat-Fei as well.

You know, when I picked up this DVD after hearing the title, I assumed it was some kind of touching cross-cultural romance. No, it's a cheap thriller where Andy Lau eats ants in a tiger cage in Vietnam.

Andy gets out of prison after Shing Fui-On causes a riot. Wandering the streets of Saigon (?), he gets into a scuffle with a shopkeeper and kindly government official Cherie Chung gets him out of trouble.

She then asks the guy's help in finding her brother who is still in a prison camp.

Soon after, Andy and Cherie meet in some kind of democracy march and the cops show up to bust heads. You would think that Cherie's character would begin to figure out that this guy is a jinx. I mean, if she's a party official, why would she be seen in public with such an obvious troublesome foreigner?

I guess as viewers we're supposed to understand that she's desperate to find her brother from the same prison camp.

So Andy delivers his package and it reveals some anti-party stuff and -- you guessed it! -- he gets arrested again!

Stars and Roses (1989) doesn't have the best subtitles in the world but I don't think that's the problem. I think that the pacing is the problem. Or maybe the editing. Or maybe the half-assed plot?

This flick is a lazy mess, there's no question about it. It's like two different films were spliced together! It almost feels like the Cherie Chung and Andy Lau scenes were filmed after all the prison camp stuff and added in later.

Eventually, Cherie helps out in a scheme to break Andy and her brother out of prison. The whole thing is confusing and unbelievable and just silly.

It looks like Stars and Roses (1989) is out-of-print on both VCD and DVD. Consider yourself lucky. This Cherie Chung fan suffered so you don't have to.