Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 4th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1989
Director: Patrick Tam
Writers: Koon-Chung Chan, Kan-Cheung Tsang
Cast: Kenny Bee, Joey Wang, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Chia-Hui Liu
DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Approximate Running Time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English
DVD Release: Mei Ah
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: OOP
Synopsis: A young woman named Lap is forced to choose between the man she loves and protecting her father who inadvertently killed a crime boss’s son. From there she forgoes her own happiness and accepts the offer from rival crime boss named Shen to protect her father. Unfortunately such a deal comes at a great cost and she is forced to be the crime bosses girlfriend.
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose was directed by Patrick Tam whose other notable films include, Ming jian and After this our Exile. Key collaborators on My Heart Is That Eternal Rose include, screenwriter Kan-Cheung Tsang (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle), composer Danny Chung (As Tears Go By, Happy Together) and cinematographers David Chung (Once Upon a Time in China) and Christopher Doyle (Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, Fallen Angels).
The opening act is all about getting to know who all the main players. Also during these opening moments the film there are handful of moments that teeter between romance and comedy. Things start to take on a darker vibe once the father character Uncle Cheung agrees to do a favor for Law Man-Shing, a crime boss he used to work for. With the boiling point coming when one of the men that Uncle Cheung enlisted to help him do the favor becomes too greedy and kills Law Man-Shing’s son that they are transporting. From there it becomes a full on gangster film once Lap takes up Shen’s offer. The final act culminates with Lap and Rick Ma her former lover as they rekindle what they once had. Unfortunately Shen has become too fond of Lap and when he hears of her trying to run away with another man that is when the bullets start to fly in this film.
From a production stand point the visuals are rock solid, the narrative is well constructed and pacing is a never an issues as things are moving forward to this film’s moment of truth. Another strength is the characters are all well-defined and their motivations are never left in doubt? And when it comes to the action set pieces they are well executed, especially the aforementioned explosive climax of this film.
And when it comes to the performances the entire cast all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Chia-Hui Liu (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) in the role of Shen’s lecherous henchmen named Lai Liu. Needless to say he takes full advantage of his limited screen time as this character is easily the most mean spirited one he has ever portrayed. A few of his key moments include a scene where Lap’s alcoholic father begs for another drink and Lai Liu makes him get on his knees beg for it like a dog. Another standout moment is a scene where Lai Liu is given permission from Shen to rape Lap.
Other key performances include Joey Wang (A Chinese Ghost Story, City Hunter) in the role of Lap and Kenny Bee (100 Ways to Murder Your Wife) in the role of Rick Ma. These two actors has a strong chemistry which strengths their performance. With the more light moments that they share at the beginning of the film offering a perfect contrast to the turmoil that follows latter on in the film. Another performance of note is Tony Chiu Wai Leung (Bullet in the Head, In the Mood for Love) in the role of Cheung and though this character is another one of Shen’s henchmen. He does not share the same enthusiasm for coming random acts of violence.
Though My Heart Is That Eternal Rose was made during a time when crime and action films in Hong Kong were filled with wall to wall shootouts. The end result is a more drama driven film that still retains the essence of a heroic bloodshed film.
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. Outside of some minor instances of print debris this transfer is in very good shape. Colors and flesh tones look accurate and details generally look crisp. During darker moments there are mild compression related issues and edge enhancement while present it is never too intrusive.
This release comes with two audio options, a mix in Dolby Digital stereo Cantonese and a mix in Dolby Digital stereo Mandarin. There are no issues with distortion and background hiss is minimal. Dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are three subtitles options, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and English.
Extras are limited to a trailer for the film and text based extras in Chinese.
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose has been a difficult title to find on home video over the years and to date this is the only official DVD release that I have come across. And though this release leaves plenty of room for improvement, it is also the only game in town and more then serviceable presentation of an extraordinary film.