review by Neo

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Face to face of what?
Director Casey Chan is a rare HK talent that has never been used much, perhaps, it is because that his films are never strikingly art forms or commercial at all. In recent years, he has struggle to get work and years after his excellent movie (also starring Stephen Fung - in what Neo calls Fung best performance ever) The Poet back in 1997, Face to Face is a movie that Neo was kind of looking forward seeing. It has themes and shares immensely similarities with The Poet - struggling about life - adultery, what is love and tragic talented characters. While The Poet was based on the tragic life of a real life poet, Face to Face seems to be based to something too, but somehow, not only does not movie does not break any grounds, it is not even better than his previous effort in The Poet. It seems that Chan has not improved since, but his work here is still worth watching, but I would doubt that people will dig to see such a un-commercial flick.

The movie goes like this: Adapted from a novel by the famous Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo, Face to Face (a.k.a. The Snow) is a Hong Kong-Japan co-production featuring Tanihara Shosuke and Ito Misaki from Japan and also Hong Kong actor Stephen Fung. Director Casey Chan, a collaborator with Stephen Fung since The Poet, changes the setting of the story from Kyushu in southern Japan to the far North where the land is covered by snow. A lethargic and vast landscape better suits the film's eerie atmosphere by contrasting shocking scenes against the quiet winter. Stephen Fung portrays a student born into a rich Chinese family in Japan. His best friend, a talented but poor Japanese student (Tanihara Shosuke), lives with him in his house. One day they meet a gorgeous girl (Ito Misaki) and both fall in love with her. The rich Chinese young man, soon after becoming her husband, dies in a skiing accident... A thrilling film filled with horror - and the dark side of human nature may the most horrible of all!

An asset in both Casey Chan's movies, is the use of a Japanese girl, and in this movie, Ito Misaki (recently seen in About Love) is both cute and talented. A face of a typical Japanese AV girl, but somehow, she shows a depth in her character that makes her extremely mysterious and obvious at the same time. Stephen Fung, once again shows that he can act and proving his critics wrong, while proving Neo is right about his acting abilities. While this performance is not extremely impression or memorable like The Poet, Fung does well and shines through in his role in a commanding fashion.

Really, Face to Face tries to do too much and in the process ruining the movie and by disguising a weird plot line in a kind of thriller is totally misleading and misguided. However, there is always something different about a Casey Chan's film, that is the atmosphere, style and everything that surround it makes it immensely alternative-like to any HK films. While it is not as good as The Poet by any means, but its subject matter is real and imaginative at the same time. All in all, it is Stephen Fung's best acting in years and Casey Chan's rare effort in years too, and adding to the fact that the Japanese girl is pretty hot, you got yourself a pretty good weird movie that just somewhat fails to click.

I rate it 7.5/10

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Genre: Thriller/Romance/Drama
Director: Casey Chan
Cast: Stephen Fung | Ito Misaki | Yahara Shosuke
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), July 2005