Reviewed by YTSL
This 1987 film may well be the only production
in which Wong Kar Wai and Tsui Hark are both involved. When it is
realized that Eric Tsang (one of the founder members of the United Filmmakers
Organization (UFO) as well as a reputable director and actor in his own
right) and Patrick Tam (who served as editor on "Days of Being Wild" and
is a respected general and art director) also were attached to the project,
it surely is hard to not have rather high expectations for this D&B
offering. All this despite its not getting mentioned much in general
as well as in the context of talk about (the work) of any of those HKSAR
movie industry luminaries.
FINAL VICTORY has a rather simple plotline; one
which, in its essence, really does involve four individuals for the most
part. Indeed, this Wong Kar Wai scripted movie's story could be easily
summarized as being about: A whiny but well-meaning near mouse of
a man (Hung is portrayed by a Beatle-hair-styled Eric Tsang) being asked
by his menacing "Tai Ko" (Tsui Hark is very convincing as the short-fused
Elder Brother Bo) to look after his troublesome wife (Margaret Lee plays
Ping) and sweet-faced mistress (Mimi comes in the form of a very young-looking
Loletta Lee) while he serves some months of prison time, and what transpires
as a result of the interactions of Hung, Ping and Mimi.
Effectively dark comedic complications (inevitably)
arise though from such as: Ping (whom Hung refers to as "Ah So" --
i.e., a respectful Cantonese term for older sister-in-law) initially not
knowing about Mimi's existence; Mimi needing to be rescued from a Japanese
peep show establishment; and Mimi falling in love with Hung after he does
such as retrieve a fallen shoe of hers and kneels down to gently place
it back on her foot (BTW: Watching this respectful act made me recall
Takeshi Kaneshiro's gentle treatment of Brigitte Lin's shoes and feet in
"Chungking Express" and prompts me to wonder whether Wong Kar Wai has a
shoe or foot as well as cleaning fetish?!). Along the way, we also
are witness to some rather offbeat scenes involving such as ping pong balls,
a dried tiger's penis and pachinko machines plus love communiqués
by way of karaoke-style Cantopop warbling by Loletta Lee and Eric Tsang's
Although FINAL VICTORY has its amusing moments,
I frankly found it too unpolished in feel to be all that enjoyable.
The work also suffers from having an uneven tone. Something that
undoubtedly contributed to this -- and which I could not quite get over
-- was each of the movie's principals seeming to be acting in a style associated
with different genres of film: I.e., much of Eric Tsang's actions
appear to come out of a broad comedy, as does Margaret Lee's; but Loletta
Lee's gestures often seems more representative of those found in melodramas;
whereas Tsui Hark -- who really dominates the screen in the short periods
that he is in the movie -- acted as though he were in a dark crime drama.
Wong Kar Wai has said that FINAL VICTORY was made
from "one of my favorite scripts, although [director] Patrick [Tam] had
his own treatment of the characters, and he departed from what I wrote"
(In Fredric Dannen and Barry Long's Hong Kong Babylon 1997:146-147).
Supposedly, the Shanghai-born auteur drew on his experiences of working
a job in the rough Mongkok district of Hong Kong to write it (along with
the script for "As Tears Go By" and one which never got made into any film).
Yet, for some reason or other, so much of it didn't feel "real" enough
at all. This not least when one compares it with such as Tam's "My
Heart is That Eternal Rose" as well as all the works that Wong has directed
that I've viewed.
My rating for the film: 6.