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Thursday, July 18, 2024

A Moment of Romance (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A Hong Kong gangster falls in love with the young woman he kidnaps during a bank heist gone bad and the two must go on the run from his gang and the cops.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A Moment of Romance is the 1990 crime drama starring Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs) and directed by Benny Chan (New Police Story).

A Hong Kong noir, the story follows Wah (Lau) the member of a gang who is the getaway driver for a bank heist that goes awry. As the heist goes bad, the gang kidnaps a young 17-year-old girl named Jojo (Wu Chien-lien) to use as their shield in their getaway. When the gang members eventually meet up at their chose spot with Jojo still with them, some members want to kill her, but Wah steps in to save her assuring them she will not talk and takes responsibility for her. From then on, the two begin a star-crossed romance that leads both into danger as Wah’s gang members still want her killed and her upper-class parents want her separated from him and off to Canada for college. Chan infuses A Moment of Romance with lots of visual style and brutal action sequences, but these are always tempered by the softer romance which itself adds some comic relief at times.

Anyone paying a little bit of attention will notice that the opening setup of the bank heist gone sideways served as the main influence for the opening heist of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. This, however, is the pure, unfiltered source, that is uniquely Hong Kong and uniquely Hong Kong noir, with the charming femme fatale, so to speak, played by Wu Chien-Lien with more innocence than one would usually find in a Western noir. In all, this is a riveting film with excellent action, direction, and all around performances.

  • Wu Chien-lien in A Moment of Romance (1990)
  • Andy Lau in A Moment of Romance (1990)
  • Wu Chien-lien in A Moment of Romance (1990)
  • Wu Chien-lien in A Moment of Romance (1990)
  • Andy Lau and Wu Chien-lien in A Moment of Romance (1990)
  • A Moment of Romance (Radiance_RAD023BDL)
  • A Moment of Romance (Radiance_RAD023BDL)
  • A Moment of Romance (Radiance_RAD023BDL)

The Video

A Moment of Romance was scanned and restored in 4K from the original camera negative at L’Immagine Ritrovata Asia. Radiance performed additional color correction in 2023. The film is offered on this Bl-ray release in a 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodement and was authored by David Mackenzie at Fidelity in Motion. In keeping with the reputation Radiance has built up in such a brief amount of time, this film looks gorgeous in this release. It is one of the best handlings of a Hong Kong cinema catalogue film I have seen on Blu-ray, with a clean image and natural, organic layer of grain. The colors look vibrant even given the film’s at times desaturated palette. Magenta lighting really stands out. Shadows, though filled with grain, look nuanced and free from noise.

The Audio

The original mono soundtrack was restored by Radiance in 2023 and included in a LPCM 2.0 track. It provides clean dialogue but does hit against some limitations of the format, such as some sibilant louder dialogue.

The Supplements

  • Benny Chan (1080p; 00:21:22) – This archival audio interview with Benny Chan was conducted by Arnaud Ianuque in 2016, in it they discuss Chan’s start in the industry, A Moment of Romance, and his collaborators on the film.
  • In Love and Danger: HK Cinema Through A Moment of Romance (1080p; 00:25:59) – A new visual essay by critic and Asian cinema expert David Desser on the genre tropes in A Moment of Romance and their use in Hong Kong cinema. Recorded exclusively for Radiance in March 2023.
  • Audio commentary by Frank Djeng
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:04:10)
  • Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the iconic cast and crew by critic Sean Gilman; and a profile of Benny Chan by Tony Williams, co-editor of Hong Kong Neo Noir

The Final Assessment

Radiance Films releases yet another gorgeous transfer in a package filled with intelligent and enjoyable bonus features with this release of A Moment of Romance. The film includes powerhouse performances, excellent direction, and eye-catching visuals all presented beautifully in this new restoration. Highly recommended.

A Moment of Romance (Limited Edition) is out on Blu-ray August 22, 2023 from Radiance Films

  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Movie Impact | Paka Hill Productions | Radiance Films
  • Director: Benny Chan
  • Written By: James Yuen
  • Run Time: 87 Mins.
  • Street Date: 22 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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A Hong Kong gangster falls in love with the young woman he kidnaps during a bank heist gone bad and the two must go on the run from his gang and the cops. A Moment of Romance (Blu-ray Review)