Review: Just One Look (2002)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

This hidden gem is easily one of the best Hong Kong releases for 2002. Get over that appalling bright blue poster that screams “Twins on summer holiday!”, and you’ll be well rewarded.

Just One Look is about love, movies, and love of movies. It’s set in the 1970s, and the two main characters spend all their days out the front of the local theatre. Behind them a succession of wonderful hand-painted boards advertise the movies of the day, from blazing kung fu to wuxia to gangster flicks, all 1970s style. The spirit of the movies infuses the whole affair; in the street, common guys engage in earnest discussion about which is better, northern or southern fist style, and everyone wants to learn kung fu. If you’d ever doubted the impact that Bruce Lee and his peers had an a generation, this is a great tribute.

The story is one of passion and pursuit – young guys Fan and Ming are each smitten by two girls who seem to be straight out of the movies, each played by a member of the pop duo Twins. Heroine (Charlene Choi) teaches martial arts with her father (Eric Kot), and Ghost (Gillian Chung) seems to live on an island deserted save for a Buddhist temple. For a movie billed as starring Twins it’s interesting that the girls have the supporting roles, but the roles suit them perfectly.

The boys chase their romantic dreams, and their quest is illustrated by nifty recreations of the movies of the times – the Fan/Ming/Heroine love triangle is suddenly on screen in Fan’s imagination as a Cheng Pei Pei style wuxia, with disastrous consequences for onscreen Ming. Fan himself burns for revenge in the real world for a local hoodlum (Anthony Wong) who he believes killed his father; but like everything else in this film, there is more than meets the eye.

Affectionate from the first to last reel, with unflagging production values and a moving script, this summer surprise is one to savour for all who truly love Hong Kong movies.

9 fresh sugar canes out of 10.
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