Never Say Goodbye

Reviewed by YTSL

Get a hair cut!  A few weeks ago, I read of Brian’s urge to exasperatedly scream that piece of instruction at Zhang Fengyi and Max Mok while viewing “The Assassin” with a greater degree of amusement than understanding.  Now I find myself confessing to having had that very nagging thought for much of the time that Nicky Wu -- someone who I think can look good (but don’t think ought to feel such a need to prove or take advantage of it as to appear shirtless for quite a good section of this ostensibly romantic movie.  Really!) -- appeared on screen in this Y2K1 production that I had the misfortune of having chosen to check out and (re)view last night.

When this thought was what was uppermost in my mind for the bulk of a movie plus precisely encapsulates this female’s reactions to its male lead, signs surely have been furnished for this offering being one that doesn’t have much going for it!  Call me a picky grouch but the possibility of NEVER SAY GOODBYE being an enjoyable film also exponentially decreased upon a big deal getting made in its story about Valentine’s Day rarely falling on the same day of the Roman and Chinese calendars -- not least since the Christian Saint who gave his name to the date doesn’t figure at all in Chinese mythology or history (duh!) -- and other usually improbable romantic “coincidences” figuring prominently in a tale that needed such to bring together a quite unlikely pair of lovers who destiny seems to have sought to tear and keep apart.

It’s not just the fact of Athena Chu being as nicely coifed as Nicky Wu is not that makes for these two personalities not looking like they’re made for each other to my eyes (if not the individuals they portray in this uninspired offering from a first-time director in scriptwriter Lee Wai Cheung along with an experienced plus (previously) HKFA honored one -- who therefore really should have known and done better! -- in Jacob Cheung).  Rather, her Jean character -- with her talk about wanting to join the Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) humanitarian relief organization and vow for it to be so that “When I love someone, the love is forever” -- is the kind of person whose serious approach to life is one that his immature cartoonist character can only deal with by joking about.  But after she and Ko Chiu Man discover that they both have programmed the same ring tone on their cell phones and take it as a sign that they actually do have similar romantic outlooks (as well as perspectives that involve their sharing the opinion that “Money is not all mighty”), Jean responds positively to his declaration that “I’m looking for a girl who’ll NEVER SAY GOODBYE”.

Despite the pallid movie’s often immensely pathetic male protagonist being furnished with an irresponsible friend (played by Chatman To) whose primary purpose for being in the story appears to be to serve as proof that there are even more unattractive ways for Man to act than he does for the bulk of this effort, the truth of the matter is that it remained difficult to fathom how and why it is that Man would be a guy who two very different women would fall madly for.  What with NEVER SAY GOODBYE being the kind of film that is dependent -- rather than just thrives -- on coincidences, it was only to be expected that the two besotted females would happen to be best friends, whom the man of their dreams first encounters -- in less than ideal circumstances, and thus doesn’t remember doing so until later -- on a rainy and therefore gloomy Valentine’s Day.
To Man’s credit (sort of), Jean really did seem to be the one woman he truly loved (after he got dumped by his girlfriend of three years, Jenny, and he encountered Jean once more, this time in her role as the conscientious vet of his dog -- who’s male but also named Jenny...).  However, matters got complicated for them by her refusing to have pre-marital sex, his getting frustrated with this stance of hers, and his chancing upon someone willing to go to bed with him in her friend, Joyce (who is essayed by Iris Chai).  Things really take a turn towards the melodramatic when Jean finds her boyfriend morally wanting and that her gal pal covets her Man, on account of Joyce’s reaction to literally being found without her pants on coming in the form of a (failed) suicide attempt that paves the way for a doctors’ revelation -- to Jean, Man, her bullying mother and quietly menacing father -- of the art teacher suffering from leukemia.
Since Athena Chu was about the only individual in NEVER SAY GOODBYE who seemed worth watching, I was not a happy camper when her character elected to walk out of Man and Joyce’s lives, and apparently permanently out of the picture, around the sparkless movie’s halfway mark.  Fortunately, before too long in the film (but after three years had passed in the story), Man -- who married Joyce and made her pregnant but still pines for Jean -- catches sight of someone who looks a lot like Jean (small wonder, since she (also) is played Athena Chu) but tells him that she’s named Cher.  What then ensues in this questionable -- on more than one level -- offering are actions and events that I feel would not have occurred in a more intelligently written work filled with better -- and stronger -- characters.  Suffice to state at this juncture that they confirmed for me what a lame effort this Jacob Cheung production really is, plus have got me convinced of the wisdom of thinking at least twice before checking out any movies that are helmed by him and/or star Nicky Wu (about whom I have come to think that those who believe that he is incapable of displaying much on-screen chemistry with anyone other than Charlie Yeung may well have a point).

My rating for this film:  3.