A Taste of Killing and Romance


In many ways this is just your typical Hong Kong romance in which a man and woman meet cute - have an adverse relationship at first, but keep bumping into one another and soon find themselves falling in love. It even has the mandatory musical interlude (sung by Andy) in which the young couple wanders around the streets of Hong Kong hand in hand. Of course, there is a slight difference in this one - both Andy Lau and Anita Yuen are professional killers and very good ones at that. But killers fall in love like anyone else and in fact very likely have more in common than most couples do. And the coming home after work conversation tends to be more interesting -"honey, did you use a razor to the jugular or a shot to the head today". Only in Hong Kong.
Andy Lau and Anita Yuen
Love is never an easy road though and as you might imagine in the world of professional killers it gets even a bit more complicated than most. Andy is the legendary hitman Judge (though he only kills bad guys who deserve it of course) and Anita is more of a killer trainee (and turns her earnings over to charity!). In her first assignment she casually swishes into an office (attired in French cuffs and a spiffy hat) and after killing her target with a sharp object to the head, she pulls out a gun and starts blasting away at everything that moves. Anita looks good with a gun in her hand and in this film that counts for a lot. In her escape she carjacks Andy and has him drive her away. Even though it is a while before she realizes that he is the man she most admires - trainees need role models too - all seems set for a smooth sailing into the sunset until their contractors - a very nasty Mark Cheng (who pours poison down a little girls throat and then stuffs her dog into the dryer) and a sexy but deadly Christine Ng - decide to silence them.
I have to say that I have heard very few if any good words spoken about this film, but I think it is a classic in its own messy, excessive way. It is wonderfully hokey and melodramatic in a manner that only Hong Kong films can achieve without making you feel like an idiot for watching it. But as corny as it is and predictable as it is, I still found myself very caught up in the story and even enjoying the nonsensical dialogue as well as the absurdity of the plot. It is quite stylish and the action is constant throughout the film (and choreographed by Stephen Tung - Pom Pom and Hot Hot). The cinematographer makes everyone look great - even after they are dead - and Andy goes into pure pop mode and Anita has a rare opportunity in her career to do heroic bloodshed and comes through very nicely. As it progresses it becomes more and more brutal - compliments of Mark Cheng - until the wonderful carnage ending catharsis.
Andy Lau, Mark Cheng and Christine Ng

My rating for this film: 7.5


Reviewed by YTSL

After watching this 1994 romantic actioner, a reviewer on Joseph Fierro's now defunct Hong Kong Cinema site was moved to state that:  "Cheap vehicles like this account for sex idol [Andy] Lau's declining market value, but as yet, cute Anita [Yuen] is invincible."  My, how things have changed in recent years (what with the Cantopop Sky King having been crowned as the HKFA Best Actor of 2000 while Anita Yuen's two big screen appearances that year caused few critical or box office ripples).  Judging by the mentioned duo's performances in an offering I consider less low budget than just plain flawed, it is rather unfair that this is so -- for whereas he, who now has appeared in 100 films, seemed to sleepwalk through much of a work that contains much evidence of its not having been helmed by a particularly experienced or expert director, she is the one charismatic cast member who I would identify as the production's major salvation.

With a title like A TASTE OF KILLING AND ROMANCE, it's quite obvious that this is one of those movies that would start off with a bang and end on a pretty bloody note.  Chances were high too that Veronica Chan's sole directorial and producing -- cum co-scriptwriting (with Cheuk Bing) -- effort was going to feature at least one pair of probably doomed lovers.  Since Andy Lau is a star singer and Anita Yuen had appeared in "He's a Woman, She's a Man" as an aspiring crooner, it probably was inevitable as well that this would be a cinematic offering with its share of Cantopop interludes cum romantic montages.  Starting with the first killings in the film occurring around the piece's 3-minute mark, all of these expectations do duly get met.
What remained to be seen though was what the rest of A TASTE OF KILLING AND ROMANCE was going to consist of and would amount to.  Some particulars that I thought added welcome spice to the otherwise predictable proceedings included:  The often stylish looking film's featuring three -- not one or two -- professional assassins (who come in the form of Mark Cheng along with Messrs. Lau and Yuen); a couple of them falling in love with each other (rather than it being the more usual "bad" hired gun falls in love with "good" cop or relative innocent scenario); and the three hit people being involved in two -- rather than just one -- love triangles.  Having the police (who are led by Waise Lee's levelheaded Officer Tung Fai and including William So's immature Dino) being as much in the picture as they were, made things a tad more interesting too.  Still, this production's most intriguing extra component may well have come by way of Lau's Ko Shao, Yuen's Yu Feng and Cheng's Wong Cheong characters having the (type of) relationships that they do with a woman named Ice (who is portrayed by the chameleon-like Christine Ng).
With a main premise being that "even killers need love", A TASTE OF KILLING AND ROMANCE was never going to be short of melodrama (as well as murderous action).  The fact of its Chinese title translating into English as "Assassin's Fairy Tale" suggests that it was never going to be all that long on logic.  This can be seen in Yu Feng's asthmatic condition not deterring her one bit from choosing an assassin's life and deciding to embark on a romantic relationship with someone whose background she seemed content to not know too much about.  The man in question -- who one ought not be surprised to find is played by Andy Lau -- should also be held accountable both for throwing caution to the wind in his pursuit of love but also caring more about saving an innocent child over fulfilling a murderous assignment (to fulfill a wealthy wronged wife's request to kill her dastardly husband - Henry Fong Ping ).
William So, Waise Lee and Henry Fong Ping
As might be expected, these actions eventually get the pair of deadly lovebirds into serious trouble.  Nevertheless, no doubt primarily on account of their being portrayed by sweet-faced Anita Yuen and the lazy -- yet effective -- charmer that is Andy Lau, this (re)viewer still found herself rooting throughout for the duo and hoping that they would not fall into the hands of those parties who wanted them killed (or at least arrested).  On account of this happening then, I'd have to surmise that A TASTE OF KILLING AND ROMANCE is a movie that would constitute acceptable -- and even engrossing -- viewing despite its having its share of obvious faults, but probably only if you're an indulgent fan of at least one of its main stars.

My rating for the film:  6



DVD Information:

Distributed by Thakral

The transfer is ok - blanched out a bit at times and not as sharp as one would like - but still quite watchable.

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks - the first option is Mandarin, the second Cantonese - the menu is in Chinese only.

12 Chapters

The subtitles are burnt on Chinese and English.

No trailers or other extras.